Contrasts at The Cistern
Visitors to Buffalo Bayou see a small gateway that mysteriously leads you underground. If you take the tour of the Cistern, you’ll be mesmerized, just like we were.
Built in 1926, the Cistern, which is 87,500 square feet and features 221, 25-foot tall, lean solid columns, was formerly used as an underground drinking water reservoir. The Cistern reservoir could hold up to 15 million gallons of water. Today, visitors can tour the reservoir and learn about the history. Buffalo Bayou Partnership also currently presents a unique art installation "Spatial Chromointerference" by the legendary artist Carlos Cruz-Diez, a pioneer in Kinetic and Optical art. The installation will be open through Jan. 13, 2019 on Wednesdays through Fridays from 3:30-6 p.m. as well as Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m.-6 p.m.
Escaping the 90 degrees Houston heat and walking into the cold cistern, we both knew right away that this was nothing like we have ever seen before. We put on the white lab coats and entered the most beautiful architecture. The walls featured inspiring quotes including, “Art is the most beautiful of communication.” Initially, the projector’s lights were kept off, and a single white light ran through the depths of the mysterious columned cavern. Then, the white light turned off. Shortly after, 30 projectors throughout the cavern were powered on. They prominently displayed an optical illusion that changed colors from blue, yellow, green, red and purple.
The quotes that are in the tunnel entrance to the former reservoir are relatable for some visitors. After walking around the entire cistern, Jack noted, “My perspective of art has changed.” As we walked around the cistern with the lights reflecting onto our lab coats, Abby added, “I feel we are a part of the art.”
This reservoir is an intriguing site for anyone interested in Houston’s historic water system or the boundless limits that people can view art. The Buffalo Bayou Park Cistern adds an engaging flavor to the slow-moving Buffalo Bayou.
Tours are available at the Buffalo Bayou Park Cistern located at 105 Sabine Street, Houston, Texas 77007. Admission is $10 per person, $8 for Seniors (65+ with ID), Youth (9-17) and Students (18+ with ID). On Thursdays, admission is free. Please recognize that children under the age of 9 are not allowed in the Cistern. Additionally, visitors are encouraged to wear white or light-colored clothing.
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