Iconic Light Sculpture will return for Super Bowl 50. The Bay Area will be a little darker for the next 11 months. The monumental LED sculpture, The Bay Lights, must be removed from the western span of the Bay Bridge in early March to allow for maintenance of the cables.

But, thanks to generous private donors and an agreement between the non-profit Illuminate the Arts and Bay Bridge officials, the artwork will be re-installed in time to shine for Super Bowl 50 and beyond. Created by artist Leo Villareal, The Bay Lights has become a beloved global icon during its two-year installation. A must-see attraction for visitors and locals alike, the sculpture has drawn international praise and had significant economic impact on the region.

The public is invited to celebrate The Bay Lights and say goodbye-for-now at the following events:

*Thursday, March 5, 7:30 p.m.: The first 1,000 people to arrive at the patio behind Waterbar (399 The Embarcadero, San Francisco) will receive an LED tea light. Gifted by Illuminate the Arts in appreciation of public support for The Bay Lights, the tea lights will continue to glow while the artwork is removed for bridge maintenance and serve as a reminder that the darkness is only temporary. Artist Leo Villareal and Illuminate the Arts Chief Visionary Officer Ben Davis will speak at 8 pm.

Friday, March 6, 5:45 a.m.: Illuminate the Arts will offer free coffee and pastries on the patio behind EPIC Roasthouse (369 The Embarcadero, San Francisco). The Sunrise String Quartet—two violins, a viola and a cello played by members of the San Francisco Symphony—will perform for the last hour of The Bay Lights’ illumination.

The Bay Lights will shine again in 2016

The original permit that Illuminate the Arts received for The Bay Lights expires on March 6 and the sculpture must be removed to allow Caltrans to perform maintenance on the cables. The nonprofit arts organization successfully raised $4 million in private funds in November and December 2014 to pay for new equipment and re-installation of the artwork.

“Two years is a good, long run for a piece of public art,” said artist Leo Villareal. “I am personally very satisfied with the experience and embrace the temporary aspects of the artwork. At the same time, I am humbled and honored that the people of the Bay Area have overwhelmingly expressed their interest in having the light sculpture remain and become part of their daily lives. There is no higher compliment you can pay a work of art than wanting to spend time with it.”

Bay Area philanthropist Tad Taube helped Illuminate the Arts reach its fundraising goal by stepping forward with a challenge grant of $2 million. This pivotal gift inspired matching gifts, increased visibility of the need for support and created real momentum.

“The Bay Lights enriches San Francisco’s beauty and majesty, as well as that of our extraordinary San Francisco Bay,” said Tad Taube, chairman of Taube Philanthropies.

“I am proud of and grateful to our fellow citizens for joining us in ensuring this magnificent work of art remains a part of our city.”

Once the artwork is returned to the bridge in February 2016, it will be gifted to the State of California for ongoing stewardship. Following the precedent of the necklace lights that were added to the suspension cables in 1986 and became a fixture of the Bay Bridge in 1989, The Bay Lights will become a permanent part of the western span, maintained by Caltrans. Leo Villareal’s masterwork of public art will lift the gaze and spirits of Bay Area residents and visitors for generations to come.

“The Bay Lights would not exist without the ever-expanding constellation of believers that made it possible,” said Illuminate the Arts Chief Visionary Officer Ben Davis. “We are profoundly grateful for the support of so many people, including our generous private patrons, our hardworking technical team, and the dedicated people at Caltrans, the City and County of San Francisco, and the Bay Area Toll Authority. The Bay Lights is an act of community love. Together we have elevated public art to a higher consciousness.”