New Yorkers escape traffic-clogged streets and squeeze into subway cars as they commute to and from work. Countless visitors, tourists from all over, are seen studying the subway maps to get around town. It's common knowledge: the subway is the best way to go from point A to point B. But there is also one more great thing you enter by swiping your MetroCard: an incredible and vast gallery of the finest art.

SWIPE YOUR METROCARD TO SEE FINE ART IN NEW YORK'S SUBWAY STATIONS

An Artistic Visual Storytelling by Lucas Compan

 

All this art is brought to us by The Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) and its Arts & Design Program. The Program was launched in 1980, and it makes New York's subway system containing one of the largest site-specific art installations in the world. Over three-hundred works – including music, digital art, photography – most made of durable materials like glass, mosaic, bronze, and glass, beautify stations.


Times Square Mural

On the mezzanine level of Times Square/42nd Street, NYC's busiest station, you will find pop art master Roy Lichtenstein's striking 53-foot-long (16-meter-long) Times Square Mural.


Life Underground

Even for riders in a hurry, it's impossible not to notice Tom Otterness's Life Underground, quirky bronze figures populating platforms, stairways, and paths of the 14th Street/8th Avenue station in Manhattan. If you pay a close attention, these bronze characters are trying to engage or mock passersby, making satirical commentary of greed, social status, and power.


The Return of Spring, The Onset of Winter

Jack Beal’s The Return of Spring, The Onset of Winter, on Times Square/42nd Street


Flying Home Harlem Heroes and Heroines

These panels are also not to miss: Faith Ringgold's Flying Home Harlem Heroes and Heroines, on 125th St, Manhattan.


Kristin Jones/Andrew Ginzel's Oculus

Kristin Jones/Andrew Ginzel's Oculus – on Chamber St., Manhattan


Happy World

Ik-Joong Kang's Happy World, on Main St. Flushing, Queens.


My Coney Island Baby

Robert Wilson's My Coney Island Baby, on Stillwell Ave. Brooklyn.


City of Light

Romero Bearden's City of Light, on Westchester Sq. Bronx


Masstransiscope

You can see Bill Brand's zeotrope-like Masstransiscope appears animated in the Manhattan-bound tunnel leaving Brooklyn’s DeKalb Avenue.

It’s a public artwork by artist and photographer Bill Brand which combines a 300-foot long piece of art with a special enclosure that has 228 narrow slits that are surrounded by backlighting. As the train moves by at about 30mph, your eyes only see the art through the slits, making it appear as if it was animated.

The Masstransiscope was originally installed in 1980, restored in 2008, and again in 2013 after damage from Hurricane Sandy.

Masstransicope animated from photographs of the painted image panels. Bill Brand's Masstransiscope is considered an important work in the history of public art. It won a prestigious certificate of merit from the Municipal Arts Society and it still resonates as an important piece of New York City history.


Explore Art at the New York Subway 

Download MTA Arts & Design iPhone free app. Click here.

Explore an outstanding art collection in New York City from your mobile device. An entire art collection at your fingertips.

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