Have you ever seen a pile of junk made into art? Maybe you have, but probably never one that is three stories high and fills an entire backyard. Welcome, my friends, to Austin‘s infamous Cathedral of JUNK.
Austin is the home of the Capitol of Texas, but is known for being a bit weird. And the Cathedral of Junk certainly helps with that nickname. Since 1992, in the backyard of a local artist’s home, lives an amazing pile of….well, junk. But it’s amazing junk! We’re talking toy trolls, hubcaps, Barbie dolls, tires, telephones, and that’s just the beginning!
When you first arrive, you are overwhelmed with the enormity of it all and the fact that it is all built out of stuff that you and I threw away as junk and this artist made it into a work of art. Surfboards, tires, CD players, toys, bowling balls, motorcycles, glass bottles….the list goes on and on. We were especially fascinated with the items that my kids had never seen before – like a rotary phone, record players, and huge video cameras (I’m talking the kind that was heavy on your shoulder!). The Cathedral of Junk is a bit of a history museum as well.
The fact that art is made out of someone’s else’s junk was fascinating to my kids. They loved exploring, as the Cathedral is three stories high (it’s very sturdy). With rooms and passageways, my kids were kept busy finding new and amazing things to point out.
Vince Hannemann, the owner and artist, was working on a “restoration” of the Cathedral when we visited. To him, it’s a tree-house of sorts, built lovingly with junk people bring him. Vince is down to earth and we had a great time hearing how it was built, how it has evolved and funny stories of weddings and plays and other unusual events that he hosts.
Since it is in his backyard, he doesn’t post hours and he doesn’t charge an admission (but a donation is sure nice). He is around on the weekends to accommodate visitors. But you can also give him a call during the week and set up an appointment like we did – we had the place to ourselves the whole time. It is not an official museum, just a project of love that Mr. Hannemann loves to share with everyone.
The saying goes to “Keep Austin Weird” and this is certainly a place to help keep that alive. Along with all the beautiful murals you can find in Austin, you can certainly see the amazing culture this city has to offer! Make sure you take the time to visit the Cathedral of Junk next time you are in Austin.