Beat the reservations for indoor exhibitions and see some of the city’s best outdoor, public art installments all across the boroughs!
This year New York City has been adding so many wonderful outdoor public exhibitions for visitors to explore…and now you can too. Plus, it’s all in the open-air, if you’re not feeling quite comfortable enough to venture to indoor museums yet.
We’ve curated a list of the top 15 must see installments before the year is up so go out and enjoy these breathtaking works all across the city:
In its ninth year return, Photoville Festival has now stretched across all five of the boroughs! Outdoor spaces have become a sanctuary for people throughout the pandemic and Photoville is helping bring visual storytelling of this past year to the public with it’s displayed works of photography. Photoville can be found in Chelsea Park, Travers Park, Van Corlandt Park, and more. The festival additionally includes educational programs, workshops, demonstrations, and community programming.
When: Until November 29th, 2020
Where: Various locations across all 5 boroughs
2. Doors for Doris
Presented by the Public Art Fund, Sam Moyer’s title pays homage to Doris C. Freedman, Public Art Fund Founder, with her incredible three-part sculpture made from stone. Using materials that represent the founding structure of the New York area, these “doors” speaks to “how our culture values and utilizes materials,” as stated by The Public Art Fund. “Each stone in Moyer’s mosaic compositions takes on an even more striking hue against the others and the locally-quarried rock, an apt metaphor that encourages us to consider the diverse character of our city and our interconnected lives within it.”
When: Until September 12, 2021
Where: Doris C. Freedman Plaza, Manhattan
3. King Nyani
A gigantic bronze gorilla statue (the largest in the world, in fact!) has popped up in Hudson Yards, and his name is King Nyani (Swahili for “gorilla”). The statue comes from world-renowned public artists Gillie and Marc Schattner, who have dedicated their lives to saving endangered species through their works. They brought King Nyani to Bella Abzug Park in Hudson Yards to help raise awareness and funds for the critically endangered gorilla species.
When: Until May 24, 2021
Where: Bella Abzug Park, Manhattan
4. Field’s Jax
Using recycled steel, Brooklyn sculptor, Fitzhugh Karol, puts together an interactive public display of art. Karol pulled nine parts from his Eyes sculpture and re-invented them into four separate works of art. The four pieces were scattered around DUMBO to encourage viewers to explore the neighborhood in search for all four but now they have been brought together as one cohesive exhibition.
When: September 1, 2021
Where: Pelham Bay Park, Bronx
5. Monument Now
Including an aggregate of three parts, according to Socrates Sculpture Park, this exhibition “seeks to address the role of monuments in American society – some of which have been removed in recent days – and presents artist-envisioned monuments highlighting underrepresented histories including queer, Indigenous, and diasporic narratives.” Part I opened earlier this summer and Parts II & III open on October 10th, 2020. Part I features the work of Jeffrey Gibson, Paul Ramírez Jonas, and Xaviera Simmons. Part II consists of ten monuments that were submitted through an open application process. The third and final part displays a “multi-faceted monument project collectively realized by local Queens high school students.”
When: Until March 31, 2020
Where: Socrates Sculpture Park, Queens
6. Doggy Bags
The Garment District Alliance (GDA) and the New York City Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Art Program teamed up to bring an adorable public art exhibit featuring the work of New York artist, Will Kurtz.
When: Until November 20, 2020
Where: Garment District, Manhattan
7. Together, We Will Grow
This stunning mural located at Eden’s Community Garden in Brooklyn, addresses the benefits of growing your own food and teaching that to the children of the neighborhood. According to NYC Parks, “through [the] bond with gardening, the hope is that the garden will eventually become their safe space.” Put on by NYC Parks GreenThumb’s Art in the Gardens – Shed Murals Project, the painting shows hands carefully holding a growing seedling. The message being “through loving, nurturing, and growing plants, you love, nurture, and grow yourself.”
When: Until October 31, 2020
Where: Eden’s Community Garden, Brooklyn
The iconic NYC park did have statues of women before, but they were only represented in fictional characters: Alice in Wonderland, Mother Goose, and Juliet (with Romeo). There are, however, 23 statues of historical men represented throughout the Park. That changed when the nonprofit Monumental Women worked with NYC Parks and other NYC and women’s history organizations to bring tangible representations of important women to Central Park.
When: Permanent Statue
Where: Central Park, Manhattan
Notorious for it’s jaw-dropping views of Central Park and Manhattan, The Met’s Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Roof Garden has recently added another jaw-dropping sight to see. Lattice Detour, by Héctor Zamora is the eighth commission in a series for the Roof Garden. Zamora talked with curator, Iria Candela how the Roof Garden is a special part of The Met being that it’s the only public open space in the museum.
The famous views from the Garden caused the artist to “consider spatial reality,” as Zamora told Candela. “This work is a paradox because, ultimately it’s a barrier. However, by introducing this special element, the lattice wall, it plays out a very interesting aspect. Ultimately, it also creates a division, but such division makes us more aware of both sides and seeks out an interaction between them.”
When: Until December 7, 2020
Where: The Metropolitan Museum, Manhattan
10. Mother Earth
Designed to inspire conversation of our natural surroundings, Kris Perry has created a 35-foot sculpture titled Mother Earth. According to a press release on Architects and Artisans, Perry said “It’s about commonality and saying nature is really important and the environment is essential for our lives…it points up to the sky, but you can walk under it – so it’s about the earth and the sky in the place where you might be standing.” Made of Corten steel, the structure pulls influence from churches, mosques, and Greek architecture.
When: Until August 11, 2021
Where: Beach 98 St. at Rockaway Boardwalk, Queens
11. Torso II, Swinging II, Messenger of the Gods
Jack Howard-Potter, a sculptor from Long Island City, decorates public spaces with his dynamic pieces of work. One of his newest pieces features a figure appearing to swing in a park. His work embraces beauty and brings mesmerizing art to the public eye.
When: September 12, 2020
Where: Court Square Park, Queens
12. 7×7 (Hope)
Opened September 12, 2020, this new installment by Queens based artist, Laura Lappi, analyzes the impact New York living spaces and their costs have on its communities. Queens remains one of the most diversified boroughs and Lappi’s sculpture especially emphasizes the living conditions of immigrants in Queens. The borough’s unaffordable prices to many are reflected through the sculpture’s tiny measurements being 7ft x 5ft x 7ft. Each of the four walls has an embedded letter that all together spells “HOPE,” and a light illuminates the structure’s interior at night.
When: Until September 5, 2021
Where: Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Queens
Celebrations is another project led by NYC Parks GreenThumb Art in the Gardens – Shed Murals Project. It is a mural in the Bronx referencing the Jackson Forest Community Garden’s history and future. One side of the mural shows people delighted over the garden and its glory, while a different side peeks into the future of the garden with images of native butterflies, flowerbeds, and a pumpkin patch.
When: Until October 31, 2020
Where: Jackson Forest Community Garden, Bronx
14. Compostela Fractal Study of a Shell
Done by Galician artist, Manuel Ferreiro Badia, Compostela Fractal Study of a Shell was first exhibited in Spain, Australia, and California before making its way to New York. The structure is made from broken steel planes “that cause the sculpture to change or live with sunlight. It reflects in an abstract way the fractal system of matter, looking for a simplicity that reflects the interior of every being,” according to Spain Arts & Culture.
When: February 2, 2021
Where: Finn Square, Manhattan
15. Boulevard of African Monarchs
Boulevard of African Monarchs, on display in Harlem, is the first piece of the Sankofa series that celebrates “Africans and their diaspora, proclaiming Black Lives Matter in three dimensions,” according to the artist Kenseth Armstead on his website. “The work reproduces house paintings by women artists, a tradition in Tiebele that predates the triangular transatlantic slave trade. The sculpture transforms marks into freestanding shapes that BREATHE.” The structure is made in memory and dedication to those who have lost their lives to social injustice in America such as Breonna Taylor, Emmett Till, Tanisha Anderson, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland, George Floyd and more.
When: Until August 2021
Where: 116th Street & Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd, Harlem
featured image source: Instagram @getit_forless