Minnesota State Fair: A new year, a new Luminarium


Last year, the Minnesota State Fair premiered Architects of Air’s Luminarium Mirazozo exhibit, a popular stop with fairgoers. This year, Architects of Air return with a new theme on their Luminarium display: Exxopolis.

Co-exhibition manager Jayne Willox said lots of people from last year’s State Fair “came right away the first day of the Fair just to see the new Luminarium.”

The Luminarium is a walk-through sculpture of winding paths, private coves and soaring domes of light and color. Inspired by natural geometry, Islamic architecture and Gothic cathedrals, the Exxopolis is constructed of 32,000 square feet of plastic shaped into 9,000 individual pieces joined by nearly four miles of seams.

Alex Gilham, of Nottingham, England, one of the four on-site exhibition managers, said Exxopolis is slightly bigger, and completely different, than the Luminarium of last year. Exxopolis has been called very “cathedral-istic,” said Gilham. “Cathedral is a word to describe it, that sense of space.”

(Above) “Stained glass” windows are a unique feature of Exxopolis’ main cupola.

Stained glass windows

Exxopolis has ten intricately designed “stained glass” windows that climb three stories high. Gilham said locals in a Nottingham community workshop designed the stained glass feature they called “the windows project.” The stained glass windows are located in Exxopolis’ main cupola. English mathematician and physicist Sir Roger Penrose influenced the windows project, said Gilham.

The State Fair’s Exxopolis is one of six world-wide luminariums that are exclusive to Architects of Air, said Gilham, and Exxopolis was designed to celebrate Architects of Air’s 20th anniversary and 20th luminarium.

(Above) Vivid colors greet visitors to Exxopolis

New Luminarium book

Gilham said a new book was published a month ago by Luminarium artistic director Alan Parkinson titled The Most Beautiful: 20 Years of the Architects of Air. A copy of the book is available to browse through at the State Fair, but because book is so new, it isn’t available to purchase on site yet. People interested in purchasing a copy can email info@architects-of-air.com and put “The Book” in the subject line, Gilham said. There is also an order form at the State Fair exhibit.

Exxopolis is fully air-conditioned and visitors are asked to remove their shoes while going through the Luminarium.

The Luminarium Exxopolis is open from 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. daily. Admission is $4 (in addition to State Fair gate admission); children under 5 are free. The exhibit is handicap accessible. An adult must accompany children under 16. The Exxopolis is located at the intersection of Cooper Street and Murphy Ave., east of the Pet Center.

Read our complete coverage of the Minnesota State Fair.