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Art in the Parks

Through collaborations with a diverse group of arts organizations and artists, Parks brings to the public both experimental and traditional art in many park locations. Please browse our list of current exhibits below, explore our archives of past exhibits or read more about the Art in the Parks Program.

Celebrating 50 Years of Art in the Parks

Join us in celebrating the 50th anniversary of our Art in the Parks program! Visit more than 50 public artworks currently on view in our parks, and celebrate with us at our upcoming anniversary events!

Celebrate 50 Years of Art in the Parks

Public Art Map and Guide

Find out which current exhibits are on display near you, and browse our permanent monument collection.

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Search Current and Past Exhibits




Ujin Lee, Samsara
June 19, 2012, 4:00 p.m. to evening
Washington Square Park, Manhattan
Map/Directions (in Google Maps)

Please note: This is a past exhibit that is no longer installed in the park.

​Samsara, continues a theme that Lee has been exploring in the past several years, mixing performance and public participation with installation in her large-scale site-specific projects. She regards her performances as an extension of her installations into time and space and views herself an intermediary of a flowing continuum.

In Samsara, Lee will create a performance at the Arch plaza with a structured grouped installation in a linear configuration that consists of over 300 cylindrical sculptures made of ramie cloths and thread. Viewers will then be invited to take a piece of the work home, contributing to the slow disappearance of the installation throughout the day.

The performance and installation viewing will take place from noon to 4:00 p.m., followed by the public participation session.

This interdisciplinary project is rooted in the artist’s investigation and study of expanding the ways in which everything in this world is connected in a perpetual circle of continuous flow. Samsara is the cycle of birth, life, death, rebirth, or reincarnation within Hinduism, Buddhism, and most other Indian  eligions. Lee interprets this concept through her work in modern parlance using objects, places, people, and possessions, but stays true to the original meaning of the word which referred to a process of continuous pursuit or flow of life.

Samsara is made possible in part with public funds from the Manhattan Community Arts Fund.

Rachel Owens, Inveterate Composition for Clare, repurposed replica humvees (steel and fiberglass), humpback whale songs, lights, Image courtesy of Parks Art & Antiquities.

Rachel Owens, Inveterate Composition for Clare
November 13, 2011 to June 15, 2012
1st Avenue and 47th Street
Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, Manhattan
Map/Directions (in Google Maps)

Please note: This is a past exhibit that is no longer installed in the park.

Placed in Manhattan’s Dag Hammarskjöld Plaza, the historic “Gateway to the UN” and designated protest site, this piece is composed of dissembled parts from two replica "kit" military Hummer shells, recomposed and welded together in a monumental pyramid-shaped stack. Sprayed with metallic icy-white paint, the piece also evokes the form of an iceberg. Additional parts welded between the two create a more cohesive form and refer to extra armaments that American soldiers have recently added to their own Hummers and equipment.

The moody songs of whales will emanate from the speakers – the haunting sounds act as a universal cry. In accordance with this soundtrack, the headlights of the cars will be set to dim and brighten.

With its rearranged parts, Inveterate Composition also places itself in recent art history dialogue. The crashed car has become an iconic form of the violence and excesses of contemporary culture as seen in work from John Chamberlain's car part sculptures and Andy Warhol’s infamous Death and Disaster series, to Charles Ray’s Untitled sculpture and Jeremy Deller’s Conversations about Iraq. Summoning references from the political strife and conflict overseas to our planet’s general discord, Rachel Owens’s latest sculpture continues this discourse, while adding focus on environmental distress to the pile of ruins. However, her abstract, melodious form also has a hulking beauty and calming presence that speaks to an undertone of optimism and the potential for change and renewal.

This work was originally developed with the enthusiastic support of the late Clare Weiss, curator for the New York City Parks Department, who passed away in January 2010 after a long battle with breast cancer. This piece is dedicated to her.

This project was completed with ZieherSmith Gallery.

Sarah Sze, Still Life with Landscape (Model for a Habitat), image courtesy of the artist

Sarah Sze, Still Life with Landscape (Model for a Habitat)
June 8, 2011 to June 2012
On the High Line between West 20th and West 21st Streets
The High Line, Manhattan
Map/Directions (in Google Maps)

Please note: This is a past exhibit that is no longer installed in the park.


​Artist Sarah Sze is world-renowned for her intricate installations that shape space with hundreds or thousands of interconnected sculptural elements.

For the High Line, Sze will create an elaborate metropolis of perspectival architectural models that will be bisected by the High Line path itself. The sculpture forms an open archway that visually frames the views to the north and south, as well as allows park visitors to physically enter and pass through the space it outlines. The architecture, complex and dynamic, will act as a bird, butterfly and insect observatory, with perches, feeding spots and birdbaths throughout.

Emerging from the shooting perspective lines of the landscape of the High Line, the sculpture will extend through space like a perspective drawing in three dimensions. The structure will climb, spin and accelerate emphasizing the open trajectory of the High Line and modeling systems of development and growth. The artwork is simultaneously an observatory, an experiment, and a metropolis, evoking urban construction, scientific models, and attempts to capture nature in situ.

This High Line Art Commission is presented by Friends of the High Line.

Julianne Swartz's Digital Empathy. Image courtesy of the artist.

Julianne Swartz, Digital Empathy
June 8, 2011 to June 2012
Select locations throughout Sections 1 and 2 of the park
The High Line, Manhattan
Map/Directions (in Google Maps)

Please note: This is a past exhibit that is no longer installed in the park.


​Julianne Swartz's sound installation, Digital Empathy, will greet High Line visitors with a variety of messages. At some sites, computer-generated voices will speak messages of concern, support, and love, intermingled with pragmatic information. In other sites, those same digitized voices will recite poetry and sing love songs to park visitors.

Installed in 11 different locations throughout the park, the sound will be transmitted through the park's bathroom sinks, water fountains, and elevators. These sites are not only unexpected places in which to encounter public art, they are places designed for individuals or small numbers of people, allowing for intimate encounters within an otherwise sprawling, communal space. The locations for Swartz's sound interventions will be indicated by graphic—based signage created by the artist that mimics standard public information signs.

Digital Empathy plays on the notion that, in our culture, we turn to technologies like online social networking, blogs, and instant messages to meet our basic human need for friendship and personal connection.

This High Line Art Commission is presented by Friends of the High Line.

Gaston Lachaise, La Montagne, Courtesy of Parks Art & Antiquities

Gaston Lachaise, La Montagne (The Mountain)
September 23, 2011 to June 4, 2012
Tramway Plaza, Manhattan
Map/Directions (in Google Maps)

Please note: This is a past exhibit that is no longer installed in the park.


​La Montagne (The Mountain) was modeled in 1934 by American Modernist sculptor Gaston Lachaise (1882-1935). The sculpture is the culmination of a series begun in 1913 by Lachaise in New York, where he lived and worked from 1912 until his death in 1935. The work represents at once a landscape and the figure of Isabel Dutaud Nagle, the artist’s muse, model and eventual wife. Lachaise envisioned a piece that was “great and solemn.” He later admitted, “You may say the model is my wife. It is a large, generous figure of great placidity, great tranquility.” Some recognize in Lachaise a revival of the feminine ideal that had flourished for centuries in the voluptuous stone carvings on Hindu temples. Lachaise’s wife inspired virtually all of Lachaise’s sculptures of the female form. “You are the Goddess I seek to express in all my work,” he wrote to her in 1915-16.

This exhibition was made possible by The Lachaise Foundation and The Frelinghuysen-Morris Foundation.

Akihiro Ito, Forever, Riverside Park South

Art Students League, Model to Monument
June 24, 2011 to May 2012
59th to 72nd Streets
Riverside Park South, Manhattan
Map/Directions (in Google Maps)

Please note: This is a past exhibit that is no longer installed in the park.

The Art Students League of New York, one of America’s premier art schools, presents the Model to Monument Program (M2M), a collaboration with the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation that has culminated in the installation of seven sculptures on view along Riverside South from 59th to 72nd Streets.
The sculptures were created by an international team of seven selected League students during a nine-month program led by master sculptor Greg Wyatt.  The pieces, one by each artist, range from abstractions conjuring New York City’s past and future, to a life-size bronze of a girl and her dog looking out on the Hudson River. The exhibition includes: River Gazers by Elizabeth Allison, The New Age by John Balsamo, Looking Up by Allston Chapman, Forever by Akihiro Ito, Flight: Past to Future by Selva Sanjines, Wish by Noa Shay, and Seiren by Matthew White.

A collaborative sculpture created by the team is also on concurrently on view in Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx. The artwork, a monumental mask, was inspired by the regular performances programmed behind the Van Cortlandt House Museum.

This work was made possible by the Art Students League’s Model to Monument Program.

Miquel Barceló,  Elephandret, Union Square, photograph by Daniel Avila

Miquel Barceló, Elefandret Sculpture at Union Square, New York City
September 13, 2011 to May 29, 2012
Union Square Park Triangle
Union Square Park, Manhattan
Map/Directions (in Google Maps)

Please note: This is a past exhibit that is no longer installed in the park.


​Barcelo’s immense Gran Elefandret, balances upright on its trunk, its four massive legs outspread searching for equilibrium. At twenty-six feet tall the sculpture brilliantly portrays an extraordinary, if not impossible physical and cultural feat; this contemporary monument believably captures with humor, scale and Spanish courage the essence of what a public monument can be today.

To further communicate the gravity-defying feat beyond the surprisingly slim trunk and large body, Barceló imparts the mass and weight of the creature through the downward sag of the heavily wrinkled skin, the off-kilter positioning of the huge legs, and the complete overturning of the floppy ears. The highly textured surface of the elephant recalls the artist’s tactile paintings, in which he creates rich topographic, sculpted surfaces on canvas.
Barceló, born in Mallorca in 1957, has spent considerable time in West Africa, and his paintings and sculptures often are often concerned with the natural life cycle.

This is a project by Marlborough Gallery, in cooperation with the Union Square Partnership.

Bill Barrett, 911 (from the Lexeme Series)

Bill Barrett, 911 (from the Lexeme Series)
May 4, 2011 to April 28, 2012
Finn Square, Manhattan, Manhattan
Map/Directions (in Google Maps)

Please note: This is a past exhibit that is no longer installed in the park.

Meant to commemorate the 10th anniversary of 9/11, the Lexeme Series began as a way for Barrett to process and talk about the heartbreaking events of September 11, 2001. It includes works in fabricated bronze, stainless steel, and an 11-foot-high Carrara marble piece that was carved in Carrara, Italy, and shown in Zell, Germany. In their own unique way, all of the Lexeme sculptures incorporate the presence of the World Trade Center.  With this particular sculpture, Barrett aims to present the idea that life, and positive and creative energy continue to prevail.

Bill Barrett has been a member of the Tribeca community for over 40 years. His studio is just blocks from the installation site. He has exhibited widely throughout the country.

Image courtesy of Artist and Marianne Boesky Gallery

Jacco Olivier, Untitled
December 15, 2011 to March 12, 2012
Madison Square Park, Manhattan
Map/Directions (in Google Maps)

Please note: This is a past exhibit that is no longer installed in the park.

Six painterly animations by acclaimed Dutch artist Jacco Olivier is the final presentation of Mad.Sq.Art’s  2011 season.  Mad. Sq. Art celebrates the artist’s first public art commission in New York City, which features both new, site-specific and existing works displayed throughout the Park. Olivier’s series of stop-motion animations brightens New York’s winter landscape with moving images exemplary of the artist’s characteristically rich color palette and lavishly textured style. The exhibition is on view daily in Madison Square Park from December 15, 2011 through March 12, 2012.

Beginning with a single image, Olivier introduces subtle alterations with each additional layer through his process of over-painting.  After he paints and re-paints his images, Olivier photographs each stage of the process as stop-motion animation until an original no longer exists. The resulting work reveals a history of the painting process that captures scraps of narrative and visual iconography brought to light as a moving painting.

According to the artist, Jacco Olivier, exhibiting in Madison Square Park provides “an opportunity to go totally abstract and see things on a molecular level, to change perspective[…] to show an animation in the ground, you really have to look down to see it, which creates a little private moment for the viewer that is free of narrative, subject or meaning.”

This is a project of Mad.Sq.Art.

Michael Sailstorfer, Tornado, Courtesy of Parks Art & Antiquities

Michael Sailstorfer, Tornado
September 20, 2011 to February 19, 2012
Doris Freedman Plaza
Central Park, Manhattan
Map/Directions (in Google Maps)

Please note: This is a past exhibit that is no longer installed in the park.


​This arresting sculpture is the first public commission in the United States by Berlin-based artist Michael Sailstorfer. It is a powerful response to the attributes of the site, for which it was conceived, and to the epic scale of New York City.

Rising more than 30 feet to meet the treetops of Central Park, Tornado brings together a series of opposite terms. It combines lightness and weight, with looming black “clouds” made from inflated truck tire inner tubes that gently shift in the breeze. Its muscular steel armature zigzags from top to bottom while the ballooning rubber forms that hang in bunches from its spiraling arms are knotted together in bulging clusters. Like a tornado, which is violently powerful but also literally made of air, Sailstorfer’s towering work provides a visceral experience of sculptural form and materials in tension, massive but also vulnerable.

Tornado is the largest in a series of the artist’s sculptures that draw on rubber tires, inner tubes, and ideas of movement and velocity. Much of his work engages with natural forces and the way we perceive them through form and physical space. At the same time, there is often a hint of whimsy in Sailstorfer’s art, conjuring a sense of playfulness, backyard experimentation, and visual wit.

This is a project by the Public Art Fund.

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