Museum of the Big Bend

Alpine, Texas

Architect: Rhotenberry Wellen Architects, James Rhotenberry, AIA

Creative Consultant: Museum of the Big Bend, Larry Francell/Elizabeth Jackson, Directors

Dawn, East Window
2.8' diameter

Twilight, West Window
2.8' diameter

Unexpected flashes of color sparkle high above the museum floor in repurposed ventilator openings from the pre-air-conditioned days when the building was built. When renovation of this historic building began, museum director Larry Francell saw the old louvered air vents as opportunities. Although Dawn and Twilight are nearly three feet in diameter, they can be easily missed in their perch high above the busy primary exhibition space below.

Although “cool” is a relative term, during the early and coolest hours of most west Texas days, rising sun sprinkles warm, colorful patterns through Dawn down into the displays below. The jagged line bisecting Dawn is an abstracted version of the horizon visible from this window.  Similarly, cooler colors project through Twilight at the end of what are often hot, shimmering days in the Trans Pecos. If you look carefully and know your local geography, you can find the Trans Pecos of west Texas outlined by the Rio Grande and Pecos Rivers. The city of Alpine is highlighted with a facetted Austrian lead-crystal prism that sends sparkling rainbows down on sunny afternoons.

The Museum of the Big Bend is a great place to begin begin your transition down to Big Bend National Park. For more about the park, check out Outside How’s Big Bend National Park Travel Guide.

Materials: German and French mouthblown glass, dichroic glass, lenses. lead crystal prism, lead and solder.