How many balloons does it take to build a Duluth Depot? Over 4,000

Artist Laural Schultze designed a scale model for the Great Hall in honor of the Depot's 130th birthday.

View of balloon model of the Depot standing in venue's Great Hall.
Duluth artist Laural Schultze is using over 4,000 balloons to build a scale model of the Depot in the historic building's Great Hall.
Jay Gabler / Duluth News Tribune
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DULUTH — On Friday morning, a family passing by the Depot downtown gaped through the doors before stepping into the Great Hall to take in a wondrous sight: the grand structure replicated as a scale model made from balloons.

The balloon sculpture is the creation of Duluth artist Laural Schultze, who planned to spend Friday putting the finishing touches on a sculpture set to be officially revealed on Saturday as part of the Depot's 130th birthday celebrations .

Taking a momentary break from her work, Schultze said the Depot contacted her in hopes she could create a way for people to "come celebrate and visit the Depot," but not necessarily all at the same time.

"Nothing says birthday more than balloons," said Schultze, "and then people can kind of come at their own pace. It'll be up for the next week."

Schultze, who's well-known locally for her ability to use balloons to replicate anything from an Easter basket to an "Alien" Xenomorph, said she uses computer design programs to plan her creations before she starts inflating.


"I've been building since Tuesday," she said, "and it's now Friday and I should be done by the end of the day." Reaching nearly to the upper-level railing, the balloon Depot is large enough to step inside.

"I've used 3,000 balloons so far," Schultze said. "We'll see how many more I add today." According to the Depot's Instagram account , the final count was over 4,000.

For more information on the Depot's 130 Year Celebration events, see .

This story was updated at 1:15 p.m. March 14 with additional photos and a final balloon count. It was first published at 11:47 a.m. March 11.

Arts and entertainment reporter Jay Gabler joined the Duluth News Tribune in February 2022. His previous experience includes eight years as a digital producer at The Current (Minnesota Public Radio), four years as theater critic at Minneapolis alt-weekly City Pages, and six years as arts editor at the Twin Cities Daily Planet. He's a co-founder of pop culture and creative writing blog The Tangential; and a member of the National Book Critics Circle. You can reach him at or 218-279-5536.
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