CAVEAT: This is a fansite, and is not directly associated with the artist Jim Sanborn. For Sanborn's official site, see

Jim Sanborn: Sculptor, Photographer, Artist


Jim Sanborn, from "Crystal City Etc." Spring 1993, page 28. Photography by Bognovitz. Jim Sanborn has had work exhibited at the High Museum of Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Phillips Collection and the Hirshhorn Museum. He has been commissioned to create artwork for such sites as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. 

Sanborn was born in 1945 in Washington, D.C. His father, a print maker, was the Director of Exhibitions at the Library of Congress for 30 years.  His mother was a pianist and photo researcher.  Sanborn grew up in Alexandria, Virginia, attended JEB Stuart High School in Fairfax, and went on to study archaeology and Romanesque cathedrals. He studied archaeology at Oxford University, and received a Bachelor of Arts degree in paleontology, fine arts, and social anthropology in 1968 from Randolph-Macon College in Ashland Virginia, and a Master of Fine Arts degree in sculpture from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn in 1971. He taught at Montgomery College in Rockville, and for nine years was the artist-in-residence and taught classes at Glen Echo Park. He has also traveled extensively in Asia, and in 1983 was commissioned to install a piece in Japan.  

Mr. Sanborn is noted for his work with American stone and related materials that evoke a sense of mystery and the forces of nature. He is probably best known for the "Kryptos" sculpture installed at CIA Headquarters in 1990, which displays encrypted messages which continue to stump code-breakers to this day.

Sanborn contact info: This website is not directly associated with Mr. Sanborn. 

Selected Works

The following is a small sample of Sanborn's works.  Please click here if you are instead interested in seeing Sanborn's official website.  The items below were chosen by the webmistress because she just happens to find them interesting. :)

Title Location Medium Date
Baltimore's West Cold Street Station
Cold Spring Outcrop (may also be known as "Wabash Outcrop")
West Cold Spring Metro Stop
Baltimore, MD
Sandstone sculpture 1981-1983
Find the Lodestone
Find the Lodestone Artery Plaza Building
Bethesda, MD
Quartz, sandstone, granite, 13x5x5' 1985
Visible Forces Invisible Forces Electronic Industries Alliance building,
Arlington, VA
18' high granite, ice-blue quartz, magnetized lodestone 1987
Elonka visiting Kryptos in October 2002

CIA Headquarters, Langley, Virginia
Exhibition: Covert Obsolescence
Exhibition: Secrets Passed

Entrance: 150'L x 12' w x 3'h
 Courtyard Plaza: 20'L x 10'w x12'h
Courtyard lawn: 60'L x 12'w x 3'h
Polished red granite, quartz,. copperplate, lodestone, encoded text, myscanthus grasses, water, and petrified wood
Commissioned in 1988, dedicated 1990
1992 6'-tall Untitled Kryptos Piece, in private sculpture garden in California in 2003 Untitled Kryptos Piece (2001-present) Private sculpture garden in California copper, petrified tree, waterjet cut text ( half Cyrillic/KGB, half Kryptos text) - 80"x45"x13" 1992
The Cyrillic Projector at University of North Carolina, Charlotte
The Cyrillic Projector (aka "Encoded Cylinder" and "The Code Room")
University of North Carolina, Charlotte Bronze, light, 5' diam Created in early 90s, installed in 1997
Coastline wave-generator sculpture in front of NOAA Headquarters in Maryland Coastline National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration
Silver Spring, MD
Granite, water, wave generator (Variwave multisequential, computer controlled pneumatically operated system) 1993
Indian Run Park

Indian Run Park

U.S. Federal Courthouse
Beltsville, MD
granite, copper, water, Iroquois text, bronze cylinder with Onondaga text, myscanthus grasses, "Seneca Red" gravel, 5,000 - 10,000 arrowheads 1994
Implied Geometries: Notom, Utah
Implied Geometries: Notom, Utah Numark Gallery Photography of projected light 120' square 1995
Adam's Smith Spinning Top, courtesy of Randall Bollig  
Adam Smith's Spinning Top
(more info here and here, and additional image here)
University of North Carolina, Charlotte Bronze, 9' x 12' 1996-1997
Antipodes sculpture at Hirshhorn
Antipodes Hirshhorn Museum, Washington D.C. Copper and petrified wood 1997
Binary Systems sculpture in Martinsburg, West Virginia
Binary Systems
Central Computing Facility
Internal Revenue Service,
Martinsburg, WV
Copper, granite, lodestone 1999
Lingua sculpture at New Washington D.C. Convention Center.  Image courtesy Chris Hanson Lingua
(additional images here, here and here.)
New Washington DC Convention Center Two 16' tall cylinders, with waterjet cut text in Russian, Chinese, Ethiopian, French, Spanish, Latin, Greek, and Iroquois 2002
Zola Spy Restaurant
(additional images of the Russian plates here) Zola Spy Restaurant, Washington, D.C.
pulped documents with stamped encrypted text, metal plates with Russian text, classified documents in English, Russian, and French, slide projection 2002

Page created: June 20, 2003. Please send additions, corrections, or other comments to

A special thank you to people who helped compile some of this initial information: Bill Houck, Gary Warzin, David Wilson, and the folks at the Kryptos discussion group. Thanks! :)


(August 2010) - Major site overhaul, removed lists of works, awards, and gallery shows, as Sanborn is now maintaining that information at his own website: To see pages from my older website, go to

(March 2010) - Added "Fansite" caveat

(2/16/2004) - Miscellaneous updates, and posted some new pictures from Sanborn's files. Also posted link to video of Taiwan piece, which was tracked down by Patrick Foster. Thanks!

(11/15/2003) - Updated information on the Untitled Kryptos Piece, based on information from an anonymous California collector and Jacqueline Shilkoff of the Neuberger Museum of Art. Added some other information about various DC pieces

(10/1/2003) - Added links to images of the Lingua and Zola Restaurant pieces

(9/29/2003) - Fixed some broken links, updated listings on Antipodes and "untitled Kryptos piece" and a couple others to reflect updated information on their status

(9/17/2003) - Substantially reorganized site and menu structure. Added information received from the extremely helpful Caroline Danforth of the Virginia Cultural Affairs Division in Arlington County, Nicole Semenchuk from the Smithsonian American Art museum, and dozens of images and other information from the gracious, wonderful and dazzlingly well-informed Public Art Consultant Francoise Yohalem.  Thank you so much!  :)

(8/11/2003) - Added picture of Jim Sanborn, and more information about the "Filter Media" exhibition obtained by researcher Nadine Granoff from the Nancy Drysdale files.

(7/21/2003) - Adding information from articles obtained by researcher Nadine Granoff, thank you!

(7/18/2003) - Adding listing for "Kayenta Arizona 2"

(7/7/2003) - Reorganized page, and added information received courtesy of Mimi Games from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, and Jennifer Maxwell from the Southeast Museum of Photography

(7/3/2003) - Added information obtained from the Federal Reserve Board Art Gallery, and the High Museum of Art.

(7/1/2003) Added information about "Animisme" piece, courtesy of the High Museum. Added pictures of Cleveland "Manuscript Pages" sculpture, courtesy of Dr. Richard Nelson for the pics, and David Wilson for the webpage!

(6/30/2003) Added listings of pieces from the "Covert Obsolescence" exhibition, courtesy of Marisa Bourgoin at the Corcoran Gallery.

(6/25/2003) Added mention of some exhibitions from info sent to me by Clare Vasquez of the St. Louis Art Museum. Thanks!

(6/24/2003) Added a few pieces that I found mentioned in the Smithsonian Art Museum Catalog

Return to Elonka's Kryptos Page

All sculptures represented in these pages are copyrighted by Jim Sanborn