Marc Quinn’s enormous bronze sculpture “Spiral of the Galaxy” was officially unveiled today at UT’s Dell Medical School.

The seven-ton conch shell takes up permanent residency on a plaza that fronts Red River Street just to the south of the Erwin Center.

Quinn’s sculpture is the first of two public art installations the will be unveiled at the medical school this academic year. Both are funded  by UT’s percent-for-art allocation program started in 2005 that sets aside 1-to-2 percent of capital improvement projects for the acquisition of public art that is overseen by the university’s Landmarks program.

Quinn’s sculpture was purchased for $1.8 million.

A project by Ann Hamilton will be unveiled in early 2017.

Marc Quinn’s “Spiral of the Galaxy.” Photo by Jeanne Claire van Ryzin.

The London-born Quinn plays with the intersection of art and science in sometimes provocative ways. He made a cast of his own head from ten pints of his frozen blood.

“Spiral of the Galaxy” debuted at a 2013 exhibit in Venice, Italy. It is part of Quinn’s Archaeology of Art series  and based on the forms of actual shells which the artist calls “the most perfect pre-existing sculptural ‘readymades’ in our natural world.”

The particular “Spiral” at UT is the artist’s proof alongside an edition of three. It will be the only example of the piece in the United States.

Visitors are free to touch the sculpture and even sit in its aperture.  It will be polished once a month.

Related coverage on other UT Landmarks projects:

Michael Ray Charles’ ‘(Forever Free) sculpture a powerful critique at UT

Nancy Rubins’ ‘Monochrome for Austin’ an elegant monument for UT

Marc Quinn’s “Spiral of the Galaxy.” Photo by Jeanne Claire van Ryzin.