Art Commission Installations

Randall Museum is host to two kinetic sculptures, Flight and Windswept. The two major art pieces represent the mission of Randall Museum as a place of exploration and connectivity with nature through innovative creativity. Both pieces also represent San Francisco’s initiative to prioritize public art throughout our community.
"Flight" by Ben Trautman
"Windswept" by Charles Sowers


Kinetic Sculpture "Flight" by Ben Trautman

In the Randall Museum lobby there soars a giant bird whose wings are in constant motion. This kinetic sculpture is aptly named Flight and was commissioned thanks to a San Francisco provision that 2% of all new major building renovation budgets be dedicated to public art pieces. Flight is a sculpture made from steel, aluminum, wood and resin. Local artist Ben Trautman has created an abstract sculpture that draws its inspiration from a bird in flight. Embodying lightness and strength, it soars overhead seemingly without effort. The sculpture is a counterweighted mobile, a delicate balance of organic and mechanical forms. The physics of structure and balance allow it to capture a small amount of energy and to expend that energy with fluidity and grace. We were excited to work with the Arts Commission on this project.


Adjacent to the Randall’s parking lot and welcoming visitors as they arrive, a kinetic wind sculpture created by Charles Sowers transforms a blank wall into a large-scale obersvational instrument. Consisting of over 500 freely-rotating directional arrows, Windswept reveals the complex interactions between the wind and the environment. The artwork was funded by the Art Enrichment monies generated by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission’s capital projects.

Wind gusts, rippling and swirling through the sculpture, illustrate the myriad and ever-changing ways the wind interacts with the building. Inspired by the maritime wind direction indicators found on sailboats, the arrows, which are mounted parallel to the facade in a grid, serve as discrete data points that provide a sample of the wind at its point of contact with the museum building. The arrows indicate the direction of the distinct air flows that comprise the larger wind phenomenon.

Science, especially the field of non-equilibrium pattern formation, serves as a deep resource for creative ideas. “I’m generally interested in creating instrumentation that allows us insight into normally invisible or unnoticed phenomena,” explains Sowers. “The Randall site, like many in San Francisco, is characterized, to a great extent, by its relationship to the wind.”

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