Virginia is for Science Lovers®️ LOVEwork on Display for Open House

  • Large metallic sculpture spelling 'LOVE' installed on a paved surface, in front of the Jefferson Lab campus with modern buildings and trees in the background under a clear blue sky.

Jefferson Lab photo by Aileen Devlin

Jefferson Lab's upcycled LOVEwork is ready for its closeup with visitors

NEWPORT NEWS, VA — Science and sustainability merge in an art display at the U.S. Department of Energy's Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility. The lab's new LOVEwork installation celebrates Virginia's iconic "Virginia is for Lovers®️" slogan with a twist - "Virginia is for Science Lovers®️."

The massive LOVE letters tower 8 feet high and stretch over 25 feet wide. But this is no ordinary public art. The LOVEwork is made entirely from repurposed aluminum flat pipes called vacuum chambers once used in particle accelerator magnets at DOE’s Argonne National Laboratory.

The vacuum chambers arrived at the lab attached to magnets that Argonne no longer needed for the accelerator that powers its Advanced Photon Source. The magnets were sent to both Jefferson Lab and DOE’s Brookhaven National Laboratory for reuse in the new Electron-Ion Collider, a $1.7 billion nuclear physics facility being constructed at Brookhaven. As part of the refurbishment, the vacuum chamber pipes are being removed from the magnets.

Instead of discarding the chambers, Jefferson Lab scientists, engineers, welders and technicians crafted them into a STEM education and outreach activity, the iconic LOVEwork letters. This kept more than 1,500 pounds of metal from being discarded.

"We constantly seek opportunities to improve our waste diversion efforts. Reusing materials is an essential part of our program. The aluminum used in this LOVEwork is an incredible example of repurposing materials.,” said Aubrie Davie, Jefferson Lab Sustainability Program lead. “Jefferson Lab is committed to innovation and creativity while simultaneously nurturing a sense of responsibility and care for the environment; the LOVEwork sign puts that commitment on display."

The LOVE letters' sheer scale and complexity are a feat of engineering. They are designed to withstand 115 mph winds, ensuring they will remain in place through severe weather.

An interchangeable art display in the centerpiece "O" will feature rotating science-themed installations contributed by lab staff and community members. Plans include kinetic pieces and static designs that symbolize diverse talents beyond the sciences. The interchangeable nature also allows for a continuous refresh.

The sustainable art will be available for viewing for the first time by the public at the Jefferson Lab 2024 Open House, June 8, and will remain a permanent fixture at the lab for all to enjoy. It continues Virginia's LOVEwork series originated in 2013 by Virginia Tourism Corporation (VATC) to promote travel around the state.

According to the VATC, each LOVEwork reflects the culture and local industries of the host community.

"Art has the power to captivate and engage audiences in ways that traditional scientific communication cannot,” said Lisa Surles-Law, Jefferson Lab Science Education manager. “The LOVEwork at Jefferson Lab offers a unique opportunity to merge art and science. Interactive elements such as a computer activity and QR codes allow viewers to learn about the origin of each component and its role in accelerator design, thus enhancing scientific literacy and curiosity.”

This upcycled public art display demonstrates the lab's commitment to STEM education, community outreach, sustainability and collaboration with partner Department of Energy labs.

For the latest on Jefferson Lab’s 2024 Open House, visit the event website at or the Facebook event page at

To be added to our event information distribution list for information updates and event reminders, email

By Michelle Alvarez

Contact: Duane Bourne, Jefferson Lab Communications Office,



Jefferson Science Associates, LLC, manages and operates the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility, or Jefferson Lab, for the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science. JSA is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Southeastern Universities Research Association, Inc. (SURA).

DOE’s Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit