Tomás Saraceno — in orbit

until January 7, 2024


  • Tomás Saraceno – in orbit, Installation view K21, Photography by Studio Tomás Saraceno © 2013
  • Tomás Saraceno – in orbit, Installation view K21, Photography by Studio Tomás Saraceno © 2013

If you want to enter the installation, please bring your own profiled footwear (hiking boots, no sneakers). The museum does provide suitable clothing, though please note that the supply of suits is limited.

Suspended over 25 m above K21’s piazza hangs Tomás Saraceno’s enormous installation “in orbit”. The installation appears as a surreal landscape, and is reminiscent of a sea of clouds or floating planetary bodies. The physically accessible work is constructed of virtually transparent steel mesh that interlaces three levels spanning the massive glass dome. Five air-filled “spheres” are positioned within the net structure that encompasses an area of 2500 m².

Visitors are invited to enter the installation and explore it by climbing. Those brave enough to venture in can observe the museum visitors down below — miniature figures wandering thorugh a miniature-like world. From the piazza and the mezzanines of the Ständehaus, the installation’s visitors on the net appear to be floating in the sky. 

Once several people enter the structure simultaneously, it is set to motion, altering the tension of the steel cables and distances between the three levels of the interlaced net. The floating space now becomes a vibrating web of relationships, resonances, and synchronous communication.

Like a spider in a web, visitors perceive the presence of others through vibrations. This echoes Saraceno's interest and research, carried out in his studio in Berlin, on new hybrid and superhuman forms of communication and co-habitation. 

In terms of scale and discourse, "in orbit" is at the forefront of Saraceno's oeuvre. Even those who are reluctant to enter the structure, suspended high above an abyss, and who decide instead to explore the installation in exclusively visual terms, will find themselves gripped by archetypal emotions associated with themes of flying, falling, and floating. 

"To describe the work means to describe the people that use it – and their emotions," explains Saraceno. Rarely does a work of art touch fears and desires of viewers so intensely, and alters the perspectives of those who decide to step into an airborne condition. 

"in orbit" was planned by Saraceno together with engineers, architects, and biologists from 2011 to 2013, and it is one of the artist’s most elaborate installations. Despite the fact that the network construction alone weighs three tons, and the largest of the "spheres" 300 kg, the work, created specially to the spatial condition of the Ständehaus with a meticulous precision, is remarkably light: its fineness and  stability hints to the structure of a spider's web.

For a number of years, the artist has been inspired by the intricate construction of spider webs, and has assembled the first three-dimensional hybrid spider web collection in the world. His research, intrigued by more-than-human worlds, studies web-building techniques and social group behavior of various spider species. The results of this inquiry have enriched his artistic practice by incorporating insights on the functionality, beauty and strength of webs into his works.

While the precise observation of nature and natural phenomena suggests the basis for Saraceno’s work, art-historical references, like of visionary architects Frei Otto or Richard Buckminster Fuller, are recognizable as well. Saraceno’s practice can be viewed as a constant research and ambition to propose and to realize utopian architecture that is well informed by environmental, social and mental ecologies. Each installation, including "in orbit", is a step forward to this large-scale visionary project, with an ultimate result: a floating city of the future. 

Perceived as a response to the current troubling environmental crisis, the vision materializes in multiple recent actions, gathered together under the Aerocene project: experiments in science, community building and social engagement, performances and interdisciplinary dialogues, inviting to fly and float with one’s feet on the ground.


The minimum age is 12
Youth ages 12 and 17 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian (or bring written permission from a parent or guardian).

Opening Hours
Waiting times are possible! On weekends we recommend an early visit. The last walk-through on the installation takes place at 5:15 pm.

Fitness, footwear, clothing
Physical fitness, footwear with a pronounced profile (hiking boots, no sneakers!) and suitable clothing are essential for those wishing to enter the installation. Shoes will not be provided by the museum, so please bring your own.

Maximum of 6 people
A maximum of 6 people can enter at one time.

10 minutes during peak periods
During peak periods, please limit the time you spend on the net to 10 minutes. 

No photos inside
Photos are possible only from outside the installation. Smartphones and cameras are not allowed inside. Falling objects may cause great injuries!

Before entering
Lockers are available for this purpose. If you wear glasses we will provide you with a glasses cord as a loan.

Download safety instructions
Before entering the installation visitors will have to sign the following form to confirm that they understand and accept the written and verbal instructions. Download PDF

  • Please bring your own footwear with a pronounced profile (e.g. hiking boots). Sneakers or similar shoes are not allowed.

  • Media

  • The Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen is funded by

Your Visit

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Ständehausstrasse 1
40217 Düsseldorf

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Tuesday – Sunday, public holiday
11 am – 6 pm

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Tel +49 (0) 211 8381-204

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