A world famous artist creates emotional artwork at one of the world’s most famous penitentiary.

Dark empty cells on an abandoned island miles away from what seems like civilization in the San Francisco Bay sits one of the world’s most famous federal penitentiary… Alcatraz. Each year hundreds of thousands of visitors flock to the famous prison from Alcatraz Cruises, a LLC of Hornblower Co. and one of our sister companies located in San Francisco, California. From the horrific told stories, to the view of the isolated bone chilling building that stands high on the sandstone rock, Alcatraz was once home to military fortification, military prison and federal prison from 1933-1963. Today, the prison is a world famous museum offering daily tours that transport visitors

Stories from feared guards punishing prisoners, to prisoners requiring psychiatric treatment and placed in isolation are just a few of what it was like for a life of a prisoner at Alcatraz. Many Hollywood movies have filmed the abandoned halls and cells that have captured pieces of history, but noting gives the feeling until one actually visits.

This is exactly what Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei did who was granted access to the museum until April 2015. Weiwei has turned the meeting halls and cells into human rights museum showcasing unusual art pieces created out materials such as lego, steel and paper. Faces of prisoners who are currently behind bars around the world are showcased and created out of legos for visitors to see. The artwork represents convicts facing similar treatments as to what prisoners would have experience at Alcatraz. The lego artwork features familiar faces including, Nelson Mandela, Edward Snowden and Andrei Barabanov. A floor that is almost the size of football field that once held prisoners folding laundry now features 170 different lego faces. Interesting enough the artwork did not include a picture of Wei Wei himself who was once placed in jail for 3 months for releasing and publishing the thousands of names of victims who were killed in the 2008 earthquake that occurred in southwest province of China.

Weiwei began working on his @Large project ‘For Site Foundation’ a San Francisco based company that arranged the exhibits installations. What sparked his curiosity and inspired Weiwei to showcase his work at the famous island and prison was the amount of people and Native American protests that once occurred back in the 60s and 70s. The beautiful and certainly colourful inspiration is displayed in the halls and cells throughout the prison.


Not only will one find the 170 faces completed from Lego pieces but they will also find a Chinese dragon that looks similar in a Chinese New Year parade. This dragon is full of vivid colours, but lacks emotions. The tails are made from kites inscribed with a message about freedom. The dragon display ‘represents the fight for freedom’, said Wei Wei.

Visitors will also find the largest art piece in the prison made from solar cookers from Tibet. The display represents a metal wing and weighs more than 10,000 pounds. Visitors who are normally are not permitted in the psychiatric wing and hospital wing will now be able to and will find an usual discoveries of white porcelain flowers placed in the sinks, tubs and toilets. Wei Wei’s art speaks a voice and certainly tells a story.

Alcatraz Cruises is a must see and do attraction in the bay area in sunny San Francisco. Experience the beauty and history to and from and all around Alcatraz. Alcatraz Cruise is also home to the nation’s first hybrid ferry using energy from wind, solar and grid electric. Voted the ‘Certificate of Excellence’ by Trip Advisor the experience is a definite must when visiting the west coast.

If you are travelling to San Francisco soon don’t miss out on this amazing opportunity to experience a world famous attraction and the creative voice of Ai Weiwei. Learn more about this amazing exhibit through Twitter @AlcatrazCruises or visit their Facebook page.

@Large: Ai Weiwei on Alcatraz

On view: Through April 26, 2015

Hours: Open daily except Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day



Adult and Junior (12–61): $30

Child (5–11): $18.25

Senior (62+): $28.25

Family (2 adults + 2 children): $90.25

Children 4 and under: Free


Details: Tickets are available from Alcatraz Cruises up to three months in advance.


To purchase tickets, visit: http://www.alcatrazcruises.com/website/buy-tickets.aspx


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Click For Site Foundation to learn more about Ai Weiwei.


See more images of Ai Weiwei inspiration artwork 

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