Light of Reason: Frequently Asked Questions

Light of Reason

Chris Burden's Light oF REason (2014). Photo by Mike Lovett / Brandeis University.

Chris Burden’s Light of Reason is a permanent sculpture created specifically for the Rose Art Museum and Brandeis University. This page aims to answer some of the most frequently asked questions about the work and will be updated to address future inquiries. If you have a question that is not addressed here, please email us!


How was the purchase of the sculpture funded?

The acquisition of Light of Reason was made possible through the Rose Art Special Fund, an endowment fund committed solely to the purchase of works of art. Because these funds are restricted, they cannot be dedicated to any other use besides the purchase and installation of works of art.


When are the lamps of Light of Reason lit?

The globes are illuminated when it is dark. The lights are on a timer and go on at sunset and off at sunrise.


Has care been given to the sustainability and environmental impact of the sculpture?

Yes. The artist, Chris Burden, was engaged in discussions with both the university and the Rose Art Museum about the energy consumption of the sculpture.

The light bulbs chosen for Light of Reason are induction bulbs, a technology known for energy efficiency and longevity (each bulb lasts up to five years). These bulbs are most often used in hard to reach areas in subways and airports, due to their long life, and cast a warm glow reminiscent of the light that would have been emitted from these lamps during their original use in the early 20th century. Color temperature is of foremost importance to the sculpture. Though LED is the most commercialized lighting technology, conservation studies have shown that the color can degrade over time. LED also casts a cold, blue light, and would be an inappropriate choice for this sculpture.

​While light fixtures around campus are mindful of minimizing upward throw of light, Light of Reason is a work of art, comprised of Victorian lamp posts from the 1900s. ​Light​ is emitted from all sides​ of the globes.​ A light pollution study was conducted by the University in advance of the sculpture's installation, and the effect of Light of Reason was found to be minute.


Is the space open to student events and activities?

Yes! The sculpture is a public space, and we are excited to see how it is used by the Brandeis community. If you or your group would like to reserve the space for formal gatherings, performances, or other large events, please submit an event request form and someone will be in touch to discuss guidelines for use and event logistics. The sculpture is always available for informal gatherings (and, in our opinion, makes a great spot to meet for lunch).



We'd like to thank all those involved in the sculpture's
installation, including:

Chris Burden and his studio, CSL Consulting, D. Schumacher Landscaping, Davidson Concrete, DEI Electrical Consultants, Driscoll Electric, Fine Arts Enterprises, Fulham Lighting, Landworks Studio, Reed Hilderbrand, Brandeis University's Office of the President, the Board of Trustees, the Office of Campus Operations, and the Brandeis University community.