Recently we've posted about a lot of cool new exhibits, but one of the great things about New York City is that you don't need to visit a museum to expose your kids to great art. Stroll around and you'll come across public art displays in parks, plazas and even on street medians. The best thing about public art? You can experience it for FREE.
Since we've noticed a bunch of eye-catching installations around town (how can you miss that upside-down elephant or those headless bodies?), we're highlighting five public exhibits so you can take your family on a DIY art tour this spring.
Pet Sounds – Flatiron
Madison Square Park, 23rd Street at Madison Avenue
On view through September 9
My seven-year-old son loved exploring Charles Long's interactive exhibit featuring long, colorful pipe railings that snake through Madison Square Park’s Oval Lawn. The winding paths lead to a seating area where you'll find large blob-like shapes. Go ahead and pet them—they come alive with vibrations and haunting sounds!
Lilliput – Chelsea and the West Village
The High Line, Gansevoort to 30th Streets on Tenth Avenue
On view through April 14, 2013
While most outdoor art installations are hard to miss due to their large scale, you have to search for the six miniature statues that comprise Lilliput. On a recent weekend, my son and I scoured the elevated park for the pieces, and they are not easy to find! Between the crowds and the diminutive size of the works, we couldn’t locate them all, but we certainly had fun trying. To ensure your art hunt is more successful than ours, download a map of sculpture locations before you head out. Wish we'd done that!
Gran Elefandret – Union Square
Union Square Park, Union Square East and 15th Street
On view through May 29
You may have already seen this 26-foot-tall elephant statue, precariously perched on its trunk. If not, go now, as it comes down right after Memorial Day weekend. Created by Miquel Barceló, the pachyderm is an amazing feat of engineering meant to reflect the energy of Union Square. All I know is that my kid found it really, really funny. Afterward, stay and enjoy the nearby Union Square Playground.
Rafael Barrios on Park Avenue – Midtown East and the Upper East Side
Park Avenue between 51st and 67th Streets
On view through June 30
Barrios' nine steel geometric sculptures totally distort your perception of reality. From head on, they seem to be hulking multidimensional statues, but as you move around them their appearance changes. The big wow comes when you get up close and realize they are actually thin, flat, metal forms that nearly disappear when you look at them sideways. I've read that their eye-popping hues change color in the sun, although we didn't witness this ourselves.
Walking Figures – Midtown East
Dag Hammarskjöld Plaza, 47th Street between First and Second Avenues
On view through September 7
Renowned contemporary artist Magdalena Abakanowicz’s 10 bronze headless and armless figures are quite striking. Located at the Second Avenue entrance of the block-long plaza, the large statues may look identical but each one is unique due to the different ripples on their surfaces. My son loved running around these giants.
And here's a bonus one for you: Peter Woytuk's sculptures on Broadway, which we first told you about last fall, were supposed to come down in April, but they've extended their stay through July 27, albeit with a slight change. The artist's massive nature sculptures are on view at Broadway Malls from 72nd to 168th Streets; the statues previously located at Columbus Circle and near Lincoln Center have been removed. You can download a map here. This exhibit is definitely a must-see!
Find out about other cool art exhibits for kids in our Museum Guide.