City of Dust: The Evolution of Burning Man

Each year, tens of thousands of people descend on Reno-Tahoe to make their way to Nevada’s Black Rock Desert for the annual gathering known as Burning Man. Perhaps you are one of these folks. If not, chances are you have at least a modest understanding of the event. A recently-opened exhibition at the Nevada Museum of Art in Reno promises to shed light on how the legendary Nevada gathering known as Burning Man evolved through collaborative ritual from humble countercultural roots on San Francisco’s Baker Beach into the world-famous desert convergence it is today.

For the first time ever, City of Dust: The Evolution of Burning Man details the journey of what has become a global community. Never-before-seen photographs, artifacts, journals, sketches, and notebooks reveal how this temporary experimental desert city came to be—and how it continues to evolve today.

While some of the more than 300 objects on view are on loan from private collections, most are drawn from the Archive Collections of the Center for Art + Environment at the Nevada Museum of Art, home to the largest publicly-held collection of Burning Man archives anywhere.

Despite the density, City of Dust only begins to unravel the story. Through the exhibition, the Nevada Museum of Art hopes not only to reveal an incredible narrative, but also to illustrate how Burning Man’s radically experimental nature connects to the desert, and to the region of the Greater West.

Even if you have never been to Burning Man, the exhibition will pique your interest – in civic design, urban planning, architecture, ritual, art, and community. You must take time to visit this show in Reno and revel in this remarkable history.

City of Dust: The Evolution of Burning Man is on view at the Nevada Museum of Art in downtown Reno, Nevada, now through January 7. This Thursday, July 6, visit the Museum for the First Thursday Burning Man Celebration (5 to 7 pm). Preview your playa persona, enjoy live music by Dingo Weasel, and view the Nautilus Submarine, 5:04 PM and Truck and Flux art cars. Also, over the next several months, the Museum will host numerous engaging talks and special programs that not only shine a light on the myriad stories entwined in this evolution, but also that connect it to a global conversation. Learn more at


By: Amanda Horn
Director of Communications,
Nevada Museum of Art