04/02/2015 12:30 pm ET Updated Apr 02, 2015

Watching Them Turn Off The Rothkos

Boston Globe via Getty Images

Every afternoon at four o’clock, people gather on the third floor of the Harvard Art Museums to watch them turn off the Rothkos.
The Rothkos are the series of murals that Mark Rothko painted, more than fifty years ago, on commission from Harvard, and the story of their demise and rebirth has been reported in several places. The work consists of five separate canvases, which were installed, in 1964, in the penthouse of the newly constructed Holyoke Center, a ten-story Harvard office building on Massachusetts Avenue across from the Yard. The canvases are each eight and a half feet high, and they hung on the east and west walls of the penthouse. There were picture windows, with spectacular views, on the other walls. The room (it no longer exists) was built to be used as a dining room on special occasions.

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