Crystal Bridges Blog

Crystal Bridges’ Big Heart

When we tell you Crystal Bridges has a big heart, we’re not kidding.


Jeff Koons "Hanging Heart (Gold/Magenta), 1994-2006 © Jeff Koons Photo by Marc F. Henning

Jeff Koons
“Hanging Heart (Gold/Magenta), 1994-2006
© Jeff Koons
Photo by Marc F. Henning

This one is nearly ten feet wide.  It’s Hanging Heart (Gold/Magenta), by Jeff Koons, the latest addition to Crystal Bridges’ collection, now hanging nine feet above the heads of diners in the Museum’s restaurant, Eleven.


Photo by Marc F. Henning

Photo by Marc F. Henning

Hanging Heart and the other steel sculptures were created to very demanding specifications by manufacturers in Germany. Koons is a perfectionist when it comes to surface finish, and in these works the labor pays off. The surface captures and reflects the lights and shapes from the dining bridge’s ribbed ceiling, skylights and glass walls, as well as, of course, the faces of its viewers.  That reflection is part of the whole purpose of the work, according to the artist.


Hanging Heart has a reflective surface because it’s important to me that when the viewer interacts with it that they realize that the art happens inside them,” Koons explained. “Affirmation of the self is really important to me—that, when the viewer comes, they realize that nothing happens without them. If they move to the right, everything shifts. If they move to the left, it’s a different kind of abstraction that occurs in the surface. Everything depends on them.”


The surface of the work is so reflective, so illusory, you can almost believe the huge steel heart to be a bubble, a balloon: something much lighter than its actual materials. But it is, indeed, an illusion.  The work weighs in at more than 3,000 pounds.


Preparators put the final touches on the installation of Hanging Heart, by Jeff Koons.  Photo by Marc F. Henning.

Preparators put the final touches on the installation of Hanging Heart, by Jeff Koons.
Photo by Marc F. Henning.

Hanging an artwork of that weight from a ceiling that is suspended from four-inch cables requires a significant amount of engineering. To be sure that it was installed safely, the Museum called upon the international engineering consultants Buro Happold, who assisted with the original engineering of Crystal Bridges’ suspended roofs and also, serendipitously, have worked with Koons on previous occasions. The firm designed a fixture for securing the sculpture that will span two of the glue-laminated beams of the Museum’s ceiling. The enormous heart now hangs nine feet above the floor of the dining bridge, suspended from two structural ribbons made of coated steel.


Hanging Heart is one of the largest works to be installed inside the Museum. Simply getting it into the building was a feat—requiring the temporary removal of the lift in the Museum’s loading dock in order to bring in the enormous crate in which the work arrived from the fabricators in Germany (crate and artwork together tipping the scale at more than 5,000 pounds). The work was accompanied by a German installation team who assisted Crystal Bridges preparators—a process that took several days and involved a two large forklifts, a scissor lift, and a custom-built protective cage for the artwork as it was lifted and secured.


The effect is stunning.   We hope you will visit soon and see yourself reflected in this remarkable work of art.


You can view the installation process step-by step in this slide show, below:


Linda DeBerry is Crystal Bridges' Copy Editor.

Linda DeBerry is Crystal Bridges’ Copy Editor.






6 Responses to “Crystal Bridges’ Big Heart”

  1. Chris Thurston

    My volunteer station at Crystal Bridges yesterday was in the main lobby where I was fortunate to observe the final installation of the HANGING HEART. It was thrilling to have a conversation with one of the installers from Germany. He shared with me a bit about the work of his company where the art is manufactured according to the design of the artist. This particular gentleman explained that he personally made the magenta “ribbon” for the gold heart. At the end of the conversation I was able to capture a photograph of the individual with the HANGING HEART in the background. So pleased to have this beautiful art piece for all who visit Crystal Bridges to see!

    • Linda DeBerry

      Chris: Thanks so much for your comment. And thanks, also, for volunteering with Crystal Bridges. We’re glad you enjoyed being present for the installation!


    The Big Beautiful Heart – was one of my favorites if not the favorite! As we were leaving, I went to look at it again and then asked a curator what was the significance of the heart and he told me a few specifics. I am so honored to have visited yesterday!

    • Linda DeBerry

      Hi Jane: There are five unique versions of Jeff Koons’s “Hanging Heart”: Red/Gold, Magenta/Gold (Crystal Bridges’ version), Silver/Blue, Violet/Gold, and Gold/Red.


Got something to say? Join the conversation!

We welcome your comments, questions, and suggestions. Please post your comment below. Thanks for reading!

  • (will not be published)