Cathedral of Junk – Visiting Austin, Texas

 Cathedral of Junk: Things to Do in Austin with Kids

Austin's Cathedral of Junk

Cathedral of Junk: The Beginning

Remember when you were a kid and you and your friends decided to make a club? First you needed a name, then a secret handshake, a sign along the lines of “keep OUT!” and voila…a CLUBHOUSE!!

In 1988 Vince Hannemann began creating a sculpture tower in his  Austin backyard. One tower became three and then his creation grew and grew and GREW and became the craziest, biggest, and most awesome clubhouse EVER! He has always called it a clubhouse but his mom dubbed his 60-100 ton creation “Cathedral of Junk’ and like all moms…she was right. The name stuck.

Cathedral of Junk in Austin, Texas

Cathedral of Junk: Visit

Step right up with your children to the Cathedral of Junk and look up. Immediately your eye will scan and then settle on the familiar, “Is that a hobby horse like the one I had as a kid?” Take someone with you so you can have fun exclaiming things you never thought you would say like, “A toilet full of rubber duckies!”.

Detail of Cathedral of Junk

Somehow the Cathedral of Junk is solidly put together without welding! Vince doesn’t divulge his secrets but we saw evidence of wires, straps, and cement. Once upon a time, those who do not appreciate art in this form tried to force Vincent to take it down. So, Vince had it inspected by structural engineers and much to the dismay of the art naysayers, the structure was found to be safe and sound. It now has a building permit. Be sure to look up!

inside room of Austin's Cathedral of Junk

 

The kids will take off ahead of you so walk inside! Climb the stairs and go down the slide. Have fun searching for and identifying objects with kids. Show them what computers and telephones looked like back in your day. Laugh at the pile of irons. With all the wash and wear clothing available now, have your kids even seen one? Some of the things from your youth are in again – like troll dolls! This place is a GREAT conversation starter!

portion of Cathedral of Junk in Austin

Every inch is covered with cool and interesting stuff. The stairs are tires with cement centers. Pressed into the cement? Tools! Bicycle chains! Cookie Cutters and keys! What a crazy family adventure spot!

Stairs in Austin's Cathedral of Junk

What do you see?

close up of wall in Austin's Cathedral of Junk

I think my favorite is the blind folded Barbie. So…..weird?

detail of class bottles Cathedral of Junk

Kids appreciate this art on a grand scale. For them was is not to love? After free time for exploring, how about a Cathedral of Junk scavenger hunt??

CLICK HERE FOR FREE SCAVENGER HUNT PRINTABLE.

Younger kids can look for colors or letters. Give them all something to look for and turn them loose!

Look Close at the Cathedral of Junk

BYOL

Like all wonders of the world there are rules for the Cathedral Of Junk:

1) BYOL – Bring your own liquid. There are no water fountains and traveling kids get thirsty.

2) Go before you arrive! – There is no bathroom facility.

3) Bring your $10 donation. That is $10 per GROUP not per person.

4) Call ahead, this is in Vince’s backyard and you can only go in with permission and with him as an escort. 512-299-7413

5) Park on the nearby cross street and walk. His neighbors have tired of all the visitors and who can blame them?

For me this artistic creation is the very essence of Austin, which is proudly weird – so weird that it’s city motto is actually ‘Keep Austin Weird’. Bring the whole family  with your $10 to see the craziest and most fun piece of art EVER and tell Vince, The Educational Tourist sent you.

Family with Artist Cathedral of Junk

Austin has a LOT to offer traveling families. Read these related articles for more tips on visiting  Austin Texas – the state capital.

Hope Outdoor Gallery – Let the KIDS paint!

Bats – View the largest urban bat colony in the world.

Happy artistic travels,

Natalie, The Educational Tourist

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57 Responses

  1. Oh wow. This is a great way of using waste!!

    • NatalieTanner says:

      I hadn’t looked at it that way, but yes, you are right!! He made something interesting and fun out of what would have found its way to the dump at some point. It really is fantastic! Thanks for stopping by!

  2. nibblesipwander says:

    Is this my mother’s garage? Just kidding! Hope you don’t see this, mom! All kidding aside, what a unique and fun place to visit! And very fitting for a town as ecentric as Austin!

    • NatalieTanner says:

      LOL!! That cracks me up! Yes, I thought it fit Austin perfectly, too. The only place that could pull it off! Thanks for stopping by!

  3. alexa says:

    That is so up my alley for a day trip. Love the wild and weird!

    • NatalieTanner says:

      I thought it would be interesting but I was caught off guard by how much I loved it. Just so different!! Thanks for stopping by!

  4. Katrina the Two Week Traveler says:

    Wow weird! Texas is an interesting place. Is that actually in Austin or outside of it? Hoping to go to Austin at some point in the next year and I’d love to check that out.

    • NatalieTanner says:

      It is actually inside Austin and not far from a few other ‘must sees’ like South Congress and the bats under the Congress street bridge. It would be very easy to add it to an itinerary of Austin. I’m happy to help you put your itinerary together – holler when your trip gets closer. You will love Austin!

  5. ryazanduraytristram says:

    WOW!!! I never seen anything like this one! lol!! this place is really quicky, unique and interesting.

    • NatalieTanner says:

      I thought so, too! By far the most fun art piece I’ve ever seen! I highly recommend visiting! Thanks for stopping by!

  6. carolcolborn says:

    What a fun place to stumble upon! I lived in Texas, a couple of hours from Austin, a few years back. I should have known about this place. So Cool.

    • NatalieTanner says:

      If you get back this way, be sure to stop in – well worth a visit because it is just so different!! Where in Texas did you live?

  7. Portia says:

    I’ve never been to Austin before but this place looks like a lot of fun! It seems like one of those quirky things you just need to do if you’re in the area haha. Kinda reminds me of this gopher museum in a town north of where I live 🙂

  8. brmsimmons says:

    Looks like someone is dedicated to keeping Austin weird.

    • NatalieTanner says:

      LOL! He is in good company. Austinites seem to take the whole ‘Keep Austin Weird’ thing very seriously! Thanks for stopping by!

  9. Yay Austin! Why have I never been to this?

  10. Chris says:

    How cool and quirky! It’s always nice to see something just a little bit different

  11. I’ll be in Austin in a week!!! Thanks for this!

  12. I See Bela says:

    It’s like a computer game! Seems like an interesting place!

  13. mappingmegan says:

    How wacky and strange! Love these kind of attractions 😀 Very cool that it’s in Vince’s backyard but he allows guests and visitors to come on through – I expect he would get quite the kick out of knowing that so many people appreciate his creation!!

    • NatalieTanner says:

      It was SOOO awesome and I tell as many people about it as I can. You just can’t imagine the sheer SIZE of it. Every single spot is a feast for the eyes and you find yourself noticing toys and things from when you were a kid and explaining them to your kids or friends…was great, great fun.

  14. Jen Morrow says:

    What a weird and wacky “museum”! Why am I not surprised this is in Austin? Crazy and fun, I would probably add this as a road trip stop.

  15. Never heard of this and have been to Austin. #mondayescapes

    • NatalieTanner says:

      It is just SO cool! I found it while looking around for quirky roadside attractions. The kids that it was the coolest thing ever!

  16. MummyTravels says:

    That is so quirky- and so much to spot. I bet you could spend a while peering here and there, and I can imagine the conversations it would start too. Thanks for linking up with #citytripping

    • NatalieTanner says:

      It was a larger than life “I Spy” game for sure! I even have a seek and find page to download before you go for the kiddos. This is my first link up ever and I’m happy to be linked up with #citytripping!

  17. What an interesting place, an assault on the eyes but fascinating way to upcycle. I’m sure both my boys would love it too, so much ‘treasure’ to find!

    • NatalieTanner says:

      NO doubt! What a great way to describe it. We literally just stared at it for a few minutes before approaching. Once you kind of get used to the idea, LOL, it is fun to look closely and find all the small things embedded! Thanks for stopping by!

  18. Ahila says:

    Looks like a fun place to explore for families with young kids. Interesting that a backyard project has turned into an amazing attraction for visitors. #CityTripping

    • NatalieTanner says:

      My backyard is just a plain mess…not art. LOL! Always fun to see art in every form. This is great fun for conversations with the kids. One tire, painted yellow, is full of concrete and has old tools embedded in it…right next to a yellow toilet full of rubber ducks. The kids LOVE this stuff and I love watching them explore! 🙂

  19. How interesting! Wish I had known about this before I went to Austin back in May! Although my parents wouldn’t have appreciated the uniqueness of this sight! #CityTripping

    • NatalieTanner says:

      A good reason to have to come back, right? I bet your parents would be surprised to look closely at the sculpture and see things from their past! It was fun to show the kids what old phones look like..with cords!! They were aghast at a very old computer. LOL! Fun conversations.

  20. My family would love this! I was wondering how on earth he hoarded that much rubbish – and then I looked in my kitchen drawers and could see the answer staring up at me!
    Love the shell art – I used to do that with old bottles to make lamp stands!
    #citytripping

    • NatalieTanner says:

      LOL! Some of the materials have been donated to him over the years. For a while you were required to bring something ‘special’ with you to visit. He clearly is beyond that need anymore though. LOL!

  21. Hilary says:

    So Fun! I’ve been wanting to visit Austin for quite some time now, but always worried that it might not appeal to my kids… Now I know different! Thank you for sharing! #citytripping

    • NatalieTanner says:

      I can see how you might get that impression but it is kid friendly in every way! You can even find venues for kid friendly for live music! It is the live music capital of the world!

  22. pigeonpairandme says:

    I’ve heard a lot about Austin, and it does sound like a special place. I love weirdness! Well done Kevin for sticking to his guns and refusing to take down his construction. #citytripping

    • NatalieTanner says:

      NO doubt! The city is all the better for it! It is really something to see! Come visit Austin – weird is at every turn in the best way!

  23. WanderMum says:

    This is so random! I can see why the whole family would find it intriguing and I’m impressed that it passed its building regulations. Well done Vince. Thanks for bringing it to our attention #citytripping

    • NatalieTanner says:

      Oh, the stories of how hard it was to get it past city regulations are impressive. First, he had to hire an engineer to find it structurally sound. Once that was done he still had to deal with the nearby homeowners and their restrictions. It is a lesson in perseverance for sure!!

  24. I live in Austin and keep meaning to take my kids here, but somehow we never get around to it. Thanks for the Scavenger Hunt. That should make it extra fun to poke around the place.

    • NatalieTanner says:

      Exploring in your own backyard can be really fun, too! Enjoy – it is quite the unusual adventure and fits in nicely in the city so proudly weird!

  25. What a crazy fascinating way of using waste. So bizarre. Thanks for linking up to #MondayEsaceps

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