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Giant London seed exhibit closed as health risk

An art exhibition involving 100 million porcelain sunflower seeds has been closed to visitors because it is generating dust that is a potential health hazard, the Tate Modern gallery said Friday.Chinese artist Ai Weiwei filled a giant hall at the London gallery with a 1,000 sq. meter (10,000 sq. foot) carpet of the imitation seeds, made by thousands of workers in China over a two-year period. Visi
/ Source: The Associated Press

An art exhibition involving 100 million porcelain sunflower seeds has been closed to visitors because it is generating dust that is a potential health hazard, the Tate Modern gallery said Friday.

Chinese artist Ai Weiwei filled a giant hall at the London gallery with a 1,000 sq. meter (10,000 sq. foot) carpet of the imitation seeds, made by thousands of workers in China over a two-year period. Visitors were invited to walk across the surface when the show opened earlier this week.

But the gallery said Friday that the "enthusiastic interaction of visitors" was causing a dust cloud that could be harmful if inhaled over a long period.

It said visitors would no longer be allowed to walk across the seeds, though they can be viewed from a walkway above the hall.

The commissions in the huge Turbine Hall have become one of the most popular attractions at Tate Modern, a former power station that opened as a gallery in 2000 and draws 4 million visitors a year.

It is not the first time an exhibition there has caused mishaps. In 2007 three visitors tumbled into Doris Salcedo's "Shibboleth," a jagged crack running the length of the room.

Last year a man was injured in Polish artist Miroslaw Balka's "How It Is," which invited visitors into a pitch-black room.