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Public art initiative encourages New Yorkers to get outside as museums remain closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic

The campaign offers a digital map of public art works and exhibitions in the five boroughs

Jeffrey Gibson, Because Once You Enter My House It Becomes Our House, 2020 Courtesy of the artist; Socrates Sculpture Park; Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York; Kavi Gupta, Chicago; and Roberts Projects, Los Angeles. Image: Scott Lynch

As museums and other cultural institutions in New York remain closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the city has launched an initiative to encourage New Yorkers to safely engage with public works of art instead. All in NYC: Public Art Edition is a comprehensive list of public art and open-air exhibitions found throughout the five boroughs, from the Kenyan artist Wangechi Mutu’s regal sculptures The New Ones, Will Free Us (2019) at The Metropolitan Museum of Art to Maya Lin’s spectral installation Ghost Forest (2020) at Madison Square Park.

The initiative, which was started by the city’s tourism and marketing arm NYC & Company, includes more than 30 participating institutions in its first phase. The project is meant to be a “significant first step to rally New Yorkers to safely explore their city once again”, says Fred Dixon, the president and chief executive of the organisation. Dixons adds that although tourism recovery will be gradual, the campaign urges locals “to take advantage of the free, public art offerings in their own backyard”.

Some works and shows to see include the Museum of the City of New York’s outdoor exhibition New York Responds that highlights the experience of New Yorkers during the Covid-19 pandemic, and the exhibition Monuments Now at Socrates Sculpture Park, which presents a series of monuments addressing overlooked and marginalised histories.