Public Art in Times Square
Times Square has a large amount of Public Art and free music that is easily accessible to everyone that visits! Some of it requires being at the right place at the right time every day, while others are limited time exhibits that I have been fortunate to catch over the years.
Here are some of my favorites:
- Midnight Moment – every night from 11:57pm – 12:00am
- Permanent Sound Art Installation – 24/7
- Times Square Kiss In
- Inside Out New York City
- The Beginning of the End
- Times Square Ferris Wheel
- Fountain for Survivors
- Valentines Day Exhibits in Times Square – every February
1. Midnight Moment:
As I discuss in my post on Secrets of Times Square, Midnight Moment is the largest running digital art exhibit in the world. It runs in Times Square from 11:57pm – 12:00am on every single night, and changes every month when most billboards synchronize for the Midnight Moment of the month. It is especially magnificent to see the Nasdaq screen – which is 7 stories tall – come alive with art every night.
Here are some that I have experienced over the years, some stranger than others, but it takes all kinds. The perspectives in each picture below differ based on where I was standing when Midnight Moment started, as I could not walk the length of Times Square to catch it all on the same night!
2. Permanent Sound Art Installation
There is a permanent unmarked sound art installation in Times Square on the pedestrian island on Broadway between 45th and 46th Street. It was first installed in the 1970s and emits a hum below a subway grate, which is often undiscernible with the sound of the traffic and people. The installation by Max Neuhaus is fittingly called ‘Times Square’.
3. Times Square Kiss In
There is an iconic photograph of a sailor kissing a nurse taken in Times Square to celebrate the end of World War II . This picture was recreated with a 25 foot sculpture that was on display in Times Square in 2015.
4. Inside Out New York City by JR and Inside Out Project
There is a project called Inside Out New York City that I first saw in Times Square in 2013. It has since moved out to Hell’s Kitchen where the last time I saw this was in 2021 outside Port Authority, but the one I saw in Times Square continues to be my favorite version of this.
Essentially New Yorkers are invited to take pictures in a photo booth truck that then prints 3’ x 4’ pictures, which are then used to show the kaleidoscope of people that make up New York.
Here are pictures from 2013 that were pasted on the ground in Duffy Square, and exhibited on the large billboards above it.
5. The Beginning of the End by Rachel Valdes Camejo and Cuban Artists Fund
The Beginning of the End was an interactive exhibit that consisted of a mirrored floor and two angled mirrored walls that captured and amplified Times Square as people walked through it, with a reflection of the sky beneath their feet in 2016. It was a very interesting perspective of how people see themselves in a shifting reality as they walk through the exhibit.
6. Wake by Mel Chin
Wake was an installation that combined the hull of a shipwreck with the skeletal remains of a marine animal in 2018. There is a mysterious figurehead on the wreckage, coming to life as though scanning the skies in Times Square. The artist visualized this as a the ways in which the expanding economies of the past are prologues to the current societal and environmental dilemmas.
7. Times Square Ferris Wheel
In 2021, there was a 110 ft Ferris wheel erected in Times Square! It was quite a sight to behold as New York was emerging from the pandemic!!
8. Fountain for Survivors by Pamela Council
In 2021, Times Square has an Exhibit called Fountain for Survivors which was made of 400,000 acrylic fingernails! The mosaic housed a structure that had a tiered water fountain inside a warm and welcoming space. The artist aimed to make a temporary monument that masking and interiority that many have known, and which are part of all our lives.
9. Valentines Day Exhibits in Times Square
There is an annual competition for Valentines Day Exhibits called Times Square Valentine Heart Design Competition, and the winner is displayed for a month at Duffy Square in Times Square. These are usually really fun interactive exhibits with a deeper meaning, and I try and catch these as often as I can.
Here are a few of the ones I have photographed over the years.
Love’s h|Edge by Almost Studio
The 2023 winner of the Valentine’s Day Exhibit Competition, Love’s h|Edge is a series of heart shaped hedges interspersed with pathways and placeholders for fresh roses that get added every day.
Bloom by Habitat Workshop
From afar, Bloom looks like a pavilion with interlocking white and red PVC pipes. When you are standing under it, the pipes are open and allow light to be seen from all directions. As you get closer, the pipes are arranged to look like hearts. The metaphorical meanings are varied and many, and to quote the description – “embodying both fragility and strength, Bloom is borne from many small pieces acting as vital connectors, reminding us that we are all bound together, each with the potential to uplift and support one another. Habitat also sees this work as an homage to collective love – a shared experience, sheltered canopy, and moment of levity, open and welcoming to all in the middle of Times Square.”
Love Letters by Soft-Firm
Love Letters is a sculpture made of two interlocked hearts that are accessible to walk through, and encouraged viewers to participate by leaving their own love letters within it. It was constructed from donated and repurposed wood from NYC building facades, interspersed with windows built into it.
Window to the Heart by Aranda\Lasch design studio and Marcelo Coelho
This is one of my favorite Valentine’s Day sculptures! It was a 12 ft 3D printed reflective lens sculpture made of resin that bend light to its center. You can see me in one of the pictures feeling all that love in Times Square!
We Were Strangers Once Too by the Office for Creative Research
This sculpture was very personal by New York City by celebrating the role immigrants play in it. From a distance, they were grouped together to make the image of a heart. Coming closer though, the poles reflected the composition of immigrants in NYC from the 2015 American Community Survey, acknowledging and celebrating their contributions to the City.
Heartbeat by Stereotank
This was the first Valentines Day Exhibit I tripped on to, and it was a fun red heart in the middle of Times Square. Created as an urban drum, the heart changed color as visitors approached or played various drums on it, adding to the rhythm of New York in Times Square.
I’m going to cover more recent Public Art Exhibits in Times Square on an ongoing basis in my blog, keep checking back in for more updates.