Luna Luna.
Photo: Joshua White

The World’s First Art Amusement Park Has Been Reborn in Los Angeles

After 37 years in storage, carnival-inspired works by Keith Haring, Salvador Dalí, and Jean-Michel Basquiat are now on view at Luna Luna

Kenny Scharf’s contribution to Luna Luna was a wave swinger dedicated to the cosmic spirits of flight, graffitied with playful geometric shapes and his signature cartoon figures. Photo: Joshua White

It may be impossible to believe but a Keith Haring carousel, a Salvador Dalí geodesic dome of mirrors, a Jean-Michel Basquiat ferris wheel, and a Kenny Scharf chair swing ride were all perfectly packed away—and nearly forgotten—in 44 shipping containers for 37 years. Luna Luna, which originally debuted in Hamburg, Germany in 1987 for only seven weeks, went through as many twists and turns as a carnival ride to end up in a 60,000 square foot downtown Los Angeles warehouse on exhibit until May 2024.

Backed by a $100 million investment from DreamCrew—the entertainment group founded by Drake and his management team—and partners Michael Goldberg (founder of creative company, Something Special Studios), international art attorney Daniel McClean, and entrepreneur Justin Wills, a multi-year quest to find Luna Luna, recover it from its resting place in rural Texas, bring the whimsical remnants of the art amusement park to Southern California and begin the restoration and conservation process, culminated in its public opening last December.

For Luna Luna, Keith Haring envisioned a brightly colored carousel featuring seats in bubble-gum pink, lime green, and tangerine orange. Photo: Jeff McLane

Luna Luna was originally conceived by Austrian artist André Heller, who held the belief that “art should come in unconventional guises and be brought to those who might not ordinarily seek it out in more predictable settings.” Staged in a fairground during the summer of ’87 part amusement park, part art museum, there were rides, attractions, interactive installations, games, and performances all created by more than 30 of the most acclaimed artists of the day, including Sonia Delaunay, Salvador Dalí, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring, David Hockney, Rebecca Horn and Roy Lichtenstein. Artistically it signified an unprecedented convergence of movements, from Abstract Expressionism to Art Brut, Dada, Fluxus, Neo-Expressionism, Nouveau Réalisme, Pop Art, Surrealism, and Viennese Actionism. For its attendees, it was a fun day out with some cool carnival rides in pre-reunification Germany.

Like an experimental art Trojan Horse, as the containers cracked open for the first time in 2022, no one knew what condition the works would be in nor what would be found inside. Below, Luna Luna’s Curatorial Director Lumi Tan, shares some of the secrets of this forgotten fantasy.

Dalí’s Luna Luna pavilion—namedDalídom—expands on hisDream of Venus surrealist funhouse designed for the 1939 New York World’s Fair. Photo: Joshua White

Puzzle Pieces

Instead of organized by artist name, every individual piece of the rides and attractions were categorized only by codes. “The entire reassembly process has been an enormous puzzle,” shares Tan. “While we were very fortunate to have some of the original architectural drawings and installation manuals. Our extensive photo archive by Sabina Sarnitz was also extremely helpful to understand the details of each work.” Luckily, the studio team included contributors who have worked at Tate Modern, MOCA, the Kitchen, and the Shed among other notable artistic institutions. “They matched thousands of parts before the reassembly and conservation even began,” she adds.

Overall, the works were in very good condition considering the many years that had passed, and the Luna Luna team are not trying to erase the incredible history. They proceeded with a light conservation approach that focuses on cleaning as the primary form of treatment. The studio team (which includes Rosa Lowinger as conservation lead and Joel Searles as reassembly lead) is comprised of art technicians that specialize in fabrication, engineering mechanics, installation, design, rigging, and materiality—many are artists themselves. Because these works are intended to be interactive, the conservation approach was not to make them look new but to reflect their use by the almost 300,000 visitors in 1987.

“Luna Luna is a unique collection that straddles artworks, temporary installations, outdoor sculpture, carnival rides, and attractions—there was no template for the restoration. The studio team spent over a year caring for these works, rebuilding each ride and attraction bolt by bolt after they came out of the shipping containers in pieces—they know every inch of these works. Each attraction takes a small army to install; because of this, the installation and placement of the works were not just a curatorial choice, but one made in close collaboration with our spatial design and studio team. There is no such thing as a small tweak with works at this scale,” Tan says.

Installations by Salvador Dalí, Sonia Delaunay, and Philip Glass at Luna Luna. Photo: Jeff McLane

Cultural Cachet

The art park afforded three icons of the art world a fantastical playground outside the confines of museums and galleries. Luna Luna debuted right before the death of three of its top artists. Basquiat died in 1988, Dali in ’89, and Haring ’90. In the years since, their works and their cultural capital have skyrocketed in value making the discovery of Luna Luna even more significant.

Staging Site

Replicating an outdoor amusement park, indoors, requires a lot of space. The attractions are divided into two rooms connected by Sonia Delaunay’s geometric circo-archway with the original Luna Luna sign and lightbulbs. Entering the first space, the first monumental work that pulls you in is Kenny Scharf’s painted chair swing ride and freestanding sculptures.

Almost as if propelled by an invisible force, the chair swing comes alive with movement, music and lights. To the left Arik Brauer’s Carousel, inspired by butterflies and populated with surreal creatures including a mermaid, she-wolf and half-moon, begins to turn as the interiorscape of Luna Luna goes through an entire day cycle in a matter of minutes, bringing its visitors back to what a visit to the park must’ve been like. Beyond these entry points, find David Hockney’s Enchanted Tree and Keith Haring’s painted carousel and industrially fabricated tarps. Alongside these works is Manfred Deix’s Palace of the Winds and photo archives by Sabina Sarnitz.

Jean-Michel Basquiat designed this Ferris wheel accompanied by Miles Davis’s 1986 song “Tutu.” Photo: Joshua White

A Tale of Two Carousels

“Keith Haring’s Carousel was a fantasy project for him. He always intended for his art to be enjoyed by children as well as adults. To see such an ambitious project realized in this way always makes me emotional,” Tan says. “Arik Bauer’s Carousel has also been a special discovery. He was an artist I wasn’t familiar with previously. This project introduces people to lesser-known artists alongside very famous artists. In this work he brings surrealist mystical paintings to life. I love that it’s a collaboration with his daughter, which captures the intergenerational spirit of Luna Luna.”


In the second space, three works incorporate sound from notable 20th century musicians. Dalí’s Dalídom pavilion, a geodesic dome with a mirrored interior that produces a kaleidoscopic infinity effect, is enhanced with Gregorian chants by Blue Chip Orchestra. Roy Lichtenstein’s Luna Luna Pavilion is a glass labyrinth encased in Lichtenstein-designed panels with a soundtrack by composer Philip Glass. Jean-Michel Basquiat’s painted Ferris wheel features music by Miles Davis.

Tan says that the ferris wheel is Luna Luna’s most complicated and intricate ride. “It is not only a unique work of art, but an antique wooden Ferris wheel from the 1930s. It is a machine that needs special attention and maintenance.” Also significant, it was painted by artisans in Vienna in accordance with Basquiat’s instruction and design—the only instance in which a Basquiat work was executed remotely.

André Heller created Wedding Chapel so guests could marry whomever or whatever they wanted. Photo: Joshua White


Many pieces of the original merchandise arrived in the shipping containers, and were sorted and revitalized, including posters and t-shirts designed by the artists, each of which needed to be cleaned and dried by hand. All is now available for sale. Published by Phaidon, the Luna Luna book documents the creation of the 1987 extravaganza, newly translated from German into English.

You Can’t Ride But You Can Get Married

When Luna Luna opened ’87, it was a full functioning amusement park. While you can’t jump on the rides and go for a spin now, there are a few attractions that can be enjoyed experientially. There is limited entry to David Hockney’s Enchanted Tree and Salvador Dalí’s Dalídom. At André Heller’s Wedding Chapel, you can marry whomever or whatever you wish. Roving performers circulate in homage to the original carnival atmosphere. There has been chatter that in the future, new artists will contribute rideable works of art.

What’s Not on View?

“This is just a fraction of our collection—there are many more secrets to solve as we continue to conserve the collection. It’s a long-term project,” Tan says.

Luna Luna currently has tickets on sale through May for Los Angeles. Representatives of the project say future locations will be announced later this year in partnership with Live Nation and a documentary is in the works.

Cover: Luna Luna.
Photo: Joshua White


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