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Arts & Culture

Must-See Burning Man Artwork in Reno

Go beyond the playa. Whether you are a Burning Man veteran or have it on your bucket list, one thing is for sure - the artwork created for the annual self-expression gathering is both innovative and fascinating.

Your guide to Burning Man artwork around Reno

Now visitors and residents of Reno Tahoe can admire these beautiful pieces of artwork year-round. Check out these must-see Burning Man pieces that all art lovers can enjoy.

City Plaza

Space Whale

The Space Whale made its debut on the playa in 2016. The Pier Group and Matthew Schultz teamed up with Android Jones and Andy Tibbetts to create a 40-foot tall humpback whale mother and her calf in steel lattice and hand-painted stained glass. The sculpture is meant to convey a testament to family, relationships with nature and the responsibility to preserve nature.


The BELIEVE sign is made of steel and is 12 feet high and 4 feet thick. Its letters are imprinted with bird cutouts to pay homage to the father of one of the artists but is also meant to invoke emotions based on experiences related to the word. The sign was part of a word sculpture series that includes other words such as MOM, LOVE and DREAM. After its appearance at Burning Man in 2013, the city of Reno purchased the sculpture in 2016 and has since made a permanent home in City Plaza.

Woman looking at the space whale statue in downtown Reno

Riverwalk District

Portal of Evolution (Bicentennial Sculpture Park)

Portal of Evolution made its way on the playa in 2009. The sculpture is designed with organic, floral shapes that sprout from the base and is crowned by a massive yet delicate butterfly, which revolves in the wind. Bryan Tedrick created this 26-foot tall sculpture to illustrate a moment of transformation and actualization. Visitors are encouraged to stand in the cocoon-like enclosure to reflect on their own potential. Portal of Evolution is now located across the street from Reno City Hall.

Guardian of Eden (Nevada Museum of Art)

The Guardian of Eden debuted at Burning Man in 2007 but now sits in front of the Nevada Museum of Art. Kate Raudenbush designed Guardian of Eden to frame the knowledge of the earth’s current ecological crisis. The sculpture is intended to inspire meditation and physical reflection.

Reno's Neon Line

Reno’s Neon Line District will be comprised of Burning Man sculptures, in addition to its other art features. Stretching from West St. to Keystone Ave. and Interstate 80 South to West Second St., visitors can interact with various sculptures. The art installations will be rotated out every two years so make sure you stop by Reno’s Neon Line next time you’re in town.

Desert Guard

This 49-foot tall sculpture made its way to the Playa in 2018 and is inspired by the armor of Genghis Khan. Sculptor Lu Ming created this piece to remind everyone that artificial intelligence should never be used for war and is intended to spark the realization that technology shouldn’t be worshipped.


Michael Christian’s ”Bloom” is a 15-foot-tall sculpture with a branch-like appearance and interactive lighting. The sculpture is made entirely of hand-formed steel and can hold 10-15 people inside the core.

Rearing Horse

Sculptor Barry Crawford created the 14.5-foot tall kinetic Rearing Horse with found objects and new metal. The mechanical horse can stand on its hind legs and its movement is powered by cranks on the perimeter fence. The sculpture wowed Burning Man attendees in 2018.


SQUARED is one of two identical 50-foot tall obelisks made of steel tubing and holds 800 full-color LED cast polyurethane cubes. Its colors change based on sensory input and interactive controls. The sculptor, Charles Gadeken, says that SQUARED is a product of the futuristic world and is meant to define the journey through time.

Artwork Around Reno

Identity Awareness (Downtown Victorian Square, Sparks)

Shane M. Pitzer's Identity Awareness - Family, previously was on the Playa for Burning Man in 2017 and 2019, but now calls Downtown Victorian Square home as part of the Sparks Art Walk. The metal heart held together by four family members signifies strength and working together to support the whole unit.

Ichthyosaur (The Discovery)

Jerry Snyder’s 50-foot tall Ichthyosaur Puppet was on the Playa in 2013 but now floats overhead in the Discovery Museum’s lobby. The plywood replica of the Nevada State Fossil is designed to explore the surreal phenomenon of faith.

Gift of Flight (Robb Drive Roundabout)

David Boyer’s Gift of Flight consists of 12 robotic birds that rotate with the Sierra winds. This stainless steel and copper sculpture can be seen as vehicles approach the Robb Drive Roundabout for the I-580.

Pan's Perch (River School Farm)

Ryan Jackson sculpted a steel fruit-bearing tree with lotus flowers hanging from the branches and the image of a Celtic Green Man to provoke contemplation about the loss of gardens in a modern world. Pan’s Perch is 13 feet tall and is composed of waste material from the shop he works in.

Treespire (Whitaker Park)

Treespire is a 15-foot tall steel tree with organically shaped lanterns covered with fabric and lit by LEDs. The lanterns spin in the breeze on windy days. Visitors are invited to interact with the Iron Monkeys’ sculpture with its wood and steel benches at its base. The sculpture is meant to create an appreciation for one’s surroundings. With such an immense collection of art throughout the city, Reno Tahoe offers a variety of guided and self-led tours that meet your specific interests. Pineapple Pedicabs offers art tours like the Burning Man Art and Mural Tour, Midtown Mural Tour, Downtown Reno Mural Tour, or the Enchanted Reno Tour: On Sinderalla Art Car. For an interactive map of Reno's public art, visit

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