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New York’s Underground Art Museum

Agosto 2015
L’arte, inaspettata e pubblica, nella metropolitana di New York: un museo sotterraneo aperto a tutti, con opere bellissime e gratuite. L’unico costo è il biglietto della subway!

di Caty Weaver | VOA - Voice of America

File audio:

Jacob Lawrence
Jacob Lawrence
American Museum of Natural History
American Museum of Natural History

Speaker: Chuck Rolando (Standard American accent)

Millions of New Yorkers and tourists travel on – or ride – the subway every day. The public transport system offers more than just a journey, however. It also has one of the most extensive public art collections in the world, with much of it under city streets.


Some people call it New York’s “underground art museum.” It includes more than 250 works of art. They help brighten everyone’s day.
There is the huge painting of the night sky on the ceiling of Grand Central Terminal. New Yorkers have been looking up at that artwork for 100 years.
In the nearby Grand Central Market you can find a large, crystal light chandelier that looks like an upside-down olive tree. Sculptor Donald Lipski completed the work in 1988 (click here to see the image).


You can find Roy Lichtenstein’s pop art porcelain enamel mural at Times Square (click here to see the image). Sol Lewitt’s intensely coloured “Whirls and Twirls” is at Columbus Circle (click here to see the image).
Sandra Bloodworth has directed the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s arts program  since it began in 1985. She says that “It really began much earlier. When the subway was founded in 1904, part of the money was used to create a very special place that people would want to use.”


For the past 30 years, artists have been asked to make works that relate to city life or to the neighborhood around a train station. There are coastal scenes at stations near the Atlantic Ocean. Native plants and flowers can be found in a garden scene in Brooklyn.
Wildlife mosaics greet visitors arriving at the subway station next to the American Museum of Natural History (click here to see the image). Sculptor Tom Otterness created the small, rounded, metal creatures that populate another station.


At Times Square Jane Dickson’s mosaics of “The Revelers,” show people celebrating New Year’s Eve (click here to see the image). Rider Tonya Pierre praises the underground art. She says: “When I’m stressed, I look at the subway art. I love the colours. Where I live, they have a mosaic of a man and a woman floating across the water, and it’s beautiful. It’s just beautiful to have art everywhere.”
Alejandra Acosta, a visitor from Colombia, is also enthusiastic.  She stopped to take a picture of a colourful glass mosaic mural by Jacob Lawrence (click here to see the image). She says: “I think it’s nice when you see these kinds of things that catch your eye when you’re walking in spaces like the subway stations that seem a little bit dull. They don’t have a lot of decoration."   


At the new Fulton Center train station there is a massive work of art by James Carpenter that has the form of a skylight (click here to see the image). Even on cloudy winter days, the piece brings life into the dark passages. You could say the same thing about all the works in New York’s underground art museum.

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Ride the subway. Prendere la metropolitana. I britannici tendono a dire to take the underground/the Tube/the train, oppure to travel on the underground ecc. Gli americani invece preferiscono dire to ride (letteralmente “cavalcare”) the subway/the train. Da notare che nell’inglese britannico la parola subway significa sottopassaggio (anche se, grazie alla “globalizzazione televisiva”, adesso anche i britannici usano questo termine)