Nevada Museum of Art’s ‘Orbital Reflector’ project gets $50K donation |

Nevada Museum of Art’s ‘Orbital Reflector’ project gets $50K donation

Special to the NNBW
Executives from City National and RBC Wealth Management present David B. Walker (right center) from the Nevada Museum of Art with $50,000 for its support of the Orbital Reflector project.
Courtesy photo

RENO, Nev. — City National Bank and RBC Wealth Management announced May 14 they provided the Nevada Museum of Art with $50,000 in support of artist Trevor Paglen’s Orbital Reflector project, scheduled to launch in October.

This is the second major event in Northern Nevada that City National Bank and RBC Wealth Management have done together since the companies merged two and a half years ago.

Trevor Paglen, the American artist behind Orbital Reflector, is a 2017 MacArthur Fellow. His work deliberately blurs lines between science, contemporary art, journalism and other disciplines to construct unfamiliar yet meticulously researched ways to see and interpret the world.

Paglen’s work is included in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Smithsonian American Art Museum; Whitney Museum of American Art; Berkeley Art Museum; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Victoria and Albert Museum, London; and Nevada Museum of Art.

Paglen’s Orbital Reflector, co-produced and presented by the Nevada Museum of Art in Reno, is a satellite that will have no commercial, military or scientific purpose. Instead, it will be a public sculpture, visible from the ground without a telescope — a satellite that belongs to everyone.

The satellite consists of a sculpture constructed of a lightweight material similar to Mylar. It is housed in a small box-like infrastructure known as a CubeSat and launched into space aboard a rocket. Once in low Earth orbit at a distance of about 350 miles (575 kilometers) from Earth, the CubeSat opens and releases the sculpture, which self-inflates like a balloon. Sunlight reflects onto the sculpture making it visible from Earth with the naked eye — like a slowly moving artificial star as bright as a star in the Big Dipper.

Orbital Reflector is uniquely poised to bring art and design-based thinking to the forefront of STEAM Education. In the near future, the Nevada Museum of Art Orbital Reflector website will contain lesson plans aligned with National Core Arts Standards for students in grades 9-12.

“Orbital Reflector is perhaps one of our most intriguing and fascinating projects we’ve ever done at the Museum that brings art and science together,” said David B. Walker, executive director and CEO of the Nevada Museum of Art. “We’re very grateful once again that City National Bank and RBC Wealth Management teamed up to support this phenomenal project…”

Global Western is an aerospace firm working with Trevor Paglen and the Nevada Museum of Art to design and manufacture Orbital Reflector. Spaceflight Industries will arrange for the launch of Orbital Reflector on board a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

Work began on this multi-year endeavor in 2015. An early model for Orbital Reflector currently hangs in the Nevada Museum of Art, Donald W. Reynolds Grand Hall. The Museum officially announced the Orbital Reflector project at its 2017 Art + Environment Conference, where artist Trevor Paglen was a keynote presenter. An archive-based interpretive exhibition about the project will open at the Museum in June 2018, to complement the fall launch.

In addition to helping fund the Orbital Reflector project, City National and RBC Wealth Management teamed up last year to sponsor the Unsettled exhibition that opened in September 2017 and ran through January of this year at the Nevada Museum of Art.

This article was provided on behalf of City National Bank. Go to to learn more about the museum; go to to learn more about RBC Wealth Management and City National Bank.

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