Robo Lights

Welcome to the Atlas Obscura Community discussion of Robo Lights in Palm Springs, California. Ask questions or share travel tips, experiences, pictures, or general comments with the community. For the story behind this place, check out the Atlas Obscura entry:

2018 was the last year of the Robo Lights display in Palm Springs. Being in the middle of a well-to-do neighborhood, the traffic and visitors were considered a nuisance (not to mention the huge lit sculptures jutting into the sky high above neighbors’ hedges and fences forcing them close their blinds to avoid the sight!).

The city of Palm Springs paid the founder, Kenny Irwin, Jr., $125,o00 to move the attraction after 2018. Initial reports implied it would be moved to nearby Desert Hot Springs, but a more recent news article in the Desert Sun reported that the display will take place in Detroit in 2019 at the Museum of Contemporary Art. If you dare, you can Google “Robo Lights” to see the article in the Desert Sun, but the newspaper webpage is so full of ads and distractions, that it’s nearly impossible to use. Think “banner ads” and “pop-ups” circa 1998. Here are the first two paragraphs of that article, dated March 8, 2019.

"Kenny Irwin Jr. says Robolights 2019 will be hosted at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit as the search for a permanent home for the exhibit at a commercial property in the Coachella Valley continues.

"The next iteration of Robolights will be a whole new creation at the Detroit museum, Irwin said, not simply a transplant of the robotic light and art display currently at Irwin’s family home in Palm Springs. "

2 Likes

Oh no! Too bad, but I guess it makes sense. I actually just saw the Robo Lights last month, and I had no idea it was moving. And it is indeed in the middle of a residential neighborhood.

Thanks for the update. And thanks for the Desert Sun warning. :slight_smile:

3 Likes

Hi tyler and hyland-I live here in Palm Springs now for over 25 years. I have 3 now, grown children. Every year we would drive around to see the Christmas light displays during the Holidays. Well, one year when my middle daughter was about 17, and my youngest was 14 or so, we drove over to Robo-lights. What some people call art, well, you’ve seen it. As you know, you had to “Donate” before you went through…so of course we did, though all of us ran out of there in less than I say 4 minutes! Thrown together trash, pink lights and human skulls somehow didn’t make for a very “Festive” night, for sure. The City has made him take his “Art” to Desert Hot Springs now, and out of that upscale neighborhood, We’ve always felt badly for those people. Now you know, as do we and our locals. My daughter now lives in Williamsburg, Va., as a result of joining the Military, and her and her husband were watching TV this past Christmas season and that show Battle of the Christmas Lights, and guess what came on? She got so embarrassed when her husband asked “What in the world is that”? hahaha!