Giant balloon serves as preview of Nano exhibition

December 16, 2010

The three-story yellow balloon installed last week over the sculpture court at the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art is part of an upcoming exhibition focusing on Tata Motors' Nano automobile.

The balloon — representing the total carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions produced by a Tata Nano in one year — was installed in advance of Unpacking the Nano, which opens Jan. 15.

The balloon measures 24.5 feet in diameter and holds 7,736 cubic feet of air. The space it occupies also relates to the balloon's dimensions — the museum's Sculpture Court is about 25,000 cubic feet, or the equivalent of the annual CO2 emissions from a large American-built pickup truck.

Working outdoors in the cold, Nano exhibition team members Spencer Lapp (B.Arch. '09) and Ben Widger (M.Arch. '11) rigged more than two dozen cables to the heavy vinyl balloon Dec. 9. The balloon was inflated and hoisted into place Dec. 10.

Unpacking the Nano, on display at the museum Jan. 15 to March 21 is organized by AAP. The exhibition — featuring two production Nanos, one of them dismantled — explores the potential impact of the revolutionary $2,500 car made in India. AAP alumnus Ratan Tata ('59, B.Arch. '62) is chairman of the Tata Group, which owns Tata Motors.

The exhibition also addresses the Nano's transformative design, safety, and the car's role in sustainability in India and other industrialized nations. A related symposium, "Unpacking the Nano: The Price of the World's Most Affordable Car," will be held in March.

By Dan Aloi

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