This is the Cathedral of Junk in Austin: an eclectic mix of broken devices, metal scraps and knick-knacks which has turned into a popular tourist attraction in South Austin.
This is definitely a place that makes Austin weird.
And remember that the motto of the city is Keep Austin Weird!
The word “weird” should not be interpreted as ‘crazy’ or ‘strange’ but rather as the will to remain unique in every situation: a unique way of expressing oneself.
Hannemann kept this uniqueness alive with his project.
He began building his Cathedral of Junk in the late 80s. His junk project started from humble beginnings: he just liked to collect and create, so he would gather random items for the building of what is now a multi-level and multi-room construction. A few years after construction began, people began to notice his hobby and his art and began sending Hannemann their discarded items to add to the Cathedral and ‘be part of a piece of art’.
The Cathedral of Junk is actually located in Hannemann's courtyard in his private home in a South Austin neighborhood. Although it was not entirely visible from the road, neighbors started complaining over the years as trash started accumulating. Although city officials were sent to inspect the facilities over suspicion of danger, Hannemann's constructions were always evaluated as structurally sound, so the Cathedral is still open today and also safe for public access and visits.
Made from an estimated fifty tons of material, visitors will be amazed at what they see. The Cathedral of Junk isn't just a pile of junk. Hannemann's structure includes impressive stairways, vaulted ceilings and even a few observation decks. Made from old TVs, bicycles, tools, bottles, street signs, car parts, ladders and other long-forgotten objects, the Cathedral of Junk is truly a marvel of modern art.
Over time, the vegetation has grown and intertwined with the structures, making the Cathedral both a living presentation and a tribute to the mass-produced castoffs discarded from our material world.
The Cathedral is a living work of art also because it’s a constant work in progress so it changes over time, as the artist keeps adding to it.
Now a number of visitors come to browse through the Cathedral of Junk. The area can even be rented for weddings and parties.
To visit it, it is necessary to get an appointment with Mr. Hannemann since this art museum is on his private property. I have read blogs and reviews about it, and they recommend calling days in advance, as available timeslots fill up quickly. A visit to the Cathedral is a once in a lifetime experience, but there are rules that must be followed as the area is full of junk, but it should be respected as a museum.
The Cathedral of Junk has become an iconic part of South Austin and any Austinite will recommend you to pay tribute to the place by booking a visit.
It is also a symbol of recycling, or better reusing, a reminder that we have so many unwanted things in our lives which pile up and ‘crowd our lives.’
I personally see the Cathedral of Junk as a dystopic representation of our messy consumeristic society but that’s the beauty of art, isn’t it?
Anyone can see in it a different message and interpret it in many different ways.