The Bay Lights is designed by world-renowned artist Leo Villareal. This iconic light sculpture shines from dusk until dawn on the San Francisco Bay Bridge west span from March 5, 2013 through March 2015. In collaboration with the State of California, a long-term proposal will bring the installation back on January 30, 2016 at 7:25 pm and remain forever brilliant.

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Leo Villareal is known internationally for his light sculptures and site-specific architectural works. His art is part of the permanent collections of prestigious museums including the Museum of Modern Art in New York and Naoshima Contemporary Art Museum in Kagawa, Japan. Recent exhibitions include a survey show organized by the San Jose Museum of Art, San Jose, CA, which continues to tour several museums in the United States. Leo received a BA in sculpture from Yale University in 1990, and a graduate degree from NYU Tisch School of the Arts, Interactive Telecommunications Program.

On October 22, Leo unveiled “Cosmos,” composed of nearly 12,000 LEDs installed above the Johnson Museum’s Mallin Sculpture Court at Cornell University, Ithaca, NY. Another new piece, “Buckyball,” largely inspired by the work of Buckminster Fuller, opened October 25 in Manhattan’s Madison Square Park. Major site-specific works include “Multiverse” in the National Gallery of Art’s in Washington, D.C. and “Hive” for the Bleecker Lafayette Street subway station in Manhattan. His work is also a focal point of the James Corner Field Operations design team that will renew Chicago’s Navy Pier.

Visit The Artist Site


ILLUMINATE aims to alter the arc of human history through the creation of transformational works of public art. Our mission is to produce contemporary art with civic impact, social activation and global reach to stimulate a culture of generosity and collaboration.

ILLUMINATE was established to help bring The Bay Lights into existence. We were a small and passionate group of friends driven by a singular goal. Working together and lifted by an extensive constellation of generous believers—we succeeded. On March 5, 2013, the monumental artwork we envisioned with artist Leo Villareal flickered to life. Then something strange and powerful happened—the world dropped its collective jaw. Response to The Bay Lights is so far reaching and profound that it has lit a path beyond itself. Illuminate the Arts, a nonprofit organization formed in pursuit of a singular goal, has been shown its true mission—its reason for existing—by the project it brought to life. The aim of art is higher than art, and so Illuminate the Arts aims very high. Our highly aspirational mission of changing humanity’s future for the better via public art—some would call it impossible—is a reflection of our core beliefs. The best of our projects will always be radically accessible, free to experience and widely viewable.



ILLUMINATE wishes to acknowledge the extraordinary support of those who donated to the project for the first two-year run and the most recent campaign creating the path for permanence, without whom The Bay Lights would not be possible.

The Lisa & John Pritzker Fund

Tad & Dianne Taube

Matt Mullenweg

The Bently Foundation: In Memory of Tim Jones

JP Conte

John & Carrie Hart

Paul & April Buchheit

Frances Hellman & Warren Breslau

Lisa & Douglas Goldman Fund



John Atwater

Keith & Leslie Blodgett


Eliza Brown

Ben Davis

Rina Alcalay & Oz Erickson

The Fisher Family

Marcia and John Goldman Foundation

Adam Gross

Mimi and Peter Haas Fund

Hellman Foundation

Tod & Allison Nielsen

Bernard & Barbro Osher

Marcela Panetta

Donald Putnam

Arthur Rock

Sakana Foundation

Charles Schwab

David Spencer

Leo Villareal

Rob Weltman Fund

Ron Zeff


Baum Foundation, The Melva Bucksbaum Family & The Raymond Learsey Family

Bill Brady


Chip Conley

Ron Conway

Drusie Davis Family Fund

Charles Evans Foundation

Sakurako and William Fisher

Frank-Ratchye Family Foundation

Matt & Amy Follett

Cecilia & Jim Herbert

Libra Foundation

Marissa Mayer, Zachary Bogue & Macallister Bogue

Alex Lloyd

Nion McEvoy

Alison & Mark Pincus

Circe & Lacey Sher of the Sher Family Fund

Mary & Steve Swig, Samantha Swig & Eric Bosick

Paul L. Wattis Foundation

Jack Weeden

Zoon Engineering

Richard & Lisa Baker

Sloan & Roger Barnett

Nancy and Joachim Bechtel Foundation

Stephen Bechtel Jr. Foundation

Claudia Ceniceros & Eric McDougall

Lisa Chadwick

Elise Friedman

Linda Gruber


Peter Hirshberg

George and Brenda Jewett

LaSalle Hotels

Brad Parberry

Helen Hilton Raiser

Vicki & Roger Sant

Steven L. Schimmel


David & Roxanne Soward

Diane Wilsey

Doug Biederbeck | MarketBar

Letetia & James Callinan

Commune Hotels and Resorts

Robert Ferguson

Bob & Chandra Friese

Richard Frisbie

Morgan Freeman

Hotel Vitale – San Francisco

Parsons Brinckerhoff Foundation

Barry Taylor

T.Y. Lin International


We wish to acknowledge the broad array of inspired individuals giving through social media channels, Causes, Gift of Light, and Tilt.