Coney Island Exhibit-Brooklyn Museum-NYC

Our December curation of installations and urban exhibits is filled with cool and quirky, beautiful, delicious and heart-warming installations all around New York City. From the world’s most expensive dollhouse to an exhibition about affordable housing, a new historical exhibit about Coney Island, and a photography exhibit about Frank Sinatra, here are 15 installations and events not to miss:

15. Coney Island: Visions of an American Dreamland at the Brooklyn Museum

Coney Island was a watering hole for the wealthy and average New Yorkers, a popular beach resort and amusement mecca that welcomed all ethnicities even in its early days. In the Brooklyn Museum’s new exhibit, Coney Island: Visions of an American Dreamland, 1861-2008, visitors can view about 140 pieces of Coney Island history, incucluding Coney Island Carousel animal and slideshow ephemera, paintings of the shore in the 1870s, depression-era scenes, photography by such renowned photographers as Walker Evans, Diane Arbus, Weegee, and Bruce Davidson, and much more.

14. Secret Central Park Holiday Tree Dedicated to the Memory of Dogs

Central Park Dog Tree Ramble 2014 Untapped Cities AFineLyneThe above photo is of mid-December 2014, filled with lamented photos of loving pets 

For all of us who have ever lost a pet, we know how big a place in they continue to occupy long after they’re gone. A few years ago, we heard a rumor that there was a place deep within Central Park‘s Ramble where people who lost their pets gathered to hang mementos on a tree. We found the tree, and the people who keep this tradition alive. As we have done the past two years, we got lost before we finally found the tree, and we were delighted to see that two laminated photos were prominently displayed on the branches right in front, with many more to come when the tree gets dedicated again in December.

Dog Tree Central Park Nov 28 2015 Untapped Cities AFineLyneSo far this Holiday Season, two ornaments laminated with photos of treasured pets

The group of people wish to keep the location secret, which makes sense with the nature of the memorial.I t is a place where people come to remember and to share their memories with others in the group. It is also a place to sit and quietly reflect. But if you would like to participate in memory of your pet, take a wander into the ramble.

Discover more secrets of Central Park here.

14. Rare Photos of Frank Sinatra Honoring his 100th Birthday at Patsy’s Italian Restaurant

On February 16, 1977, Frank Sinatra was hard at work at Medisound Studios, recording a Paul Anka tune, “Everybody Ought to be in Love” for Warner Brothers Records. The session was attended by a young photographer, Bobby Bank, who was just starting his career. Fifteen of Bank’s rarely seen images of Sinatra will be on display at Patsy’s Italian Restaurant, 236 West 56th Street, the legendary hangout of Sinatra and his crew,from December 1st to January 6, 2016. The exhibit is meant to coincide with Frank Sinatra’s 100th birthday on December 12th.

Patsy’s isn’t the only one celebrating Old Blue Eyes centennial. A flurry of books have been released too, including The Rat Pack, a limited edition photography book by Shawn Levy, with images by Sid Avery, Bob Willoughby and others; Sinatra: The Chairman, the second and final volume of James Kaplan’s definitive biography and Jack Daniel’s Sinatra Century, a collaboration between the distillery and the Sinatra Family, coinciding with a limited edition batch of numbered bottles.

12. GingerBread Lane at the New York Hall of Science

Through January 9th, 2016, The New York Hall of Science is once again exhibiting GingerBread Lane. The 300 square foot miniature gingerbread village consists of more than 150 buildings and is in the Guinness World Records for being the world’s largest gingerbread village. In addition to the exhibit, there are a series of related activities including a Members-Only GingerBread Lane Workshop and GingerBread House-Building Demonstration. On January 10, 2016, the installation is dismantled and there will be a GingerBread Lane House Giveaway.

The New York Hall of Science is located at 47-01 111th Street in Corona.

11. Gold From the Ground Up at The Museum of American Finance

The exhibit “Worth Its Weight: Gold From The Ground Up” at The Museum of American Finance, explores the ways gold has influenced our everyday lives from the American Gold Rush days to the present, along with its more unexpected uses (like the 18 karat gold Monopoly set, above). Worth Its Weight showcases hundreds of objects from over forty public and private collections. The exhibit is divided into three sections: history, everyday usage, and gold as objects of beauty, with treasured objects from the Tiffany & Co. archives, along with a display by jewelry designer Marla Aaron. In a connecting room you will find The Midas Touch of Sydney Mobell, well-known for his unusual and quirky gold and jeweled luxury items.

The exhibit will be on view through December 2016, located at 48 Wall Street.

10. No Longer Empty Unveils Intersecting Imaginaries in the Bronx

1-1-Linda-Cunningham-No-Longer-Empty-Untapped-Cities-AFineLyne-640x480“Surviving Then and Now” South Bronx Sagas by artist Linda Cunningham is part of “Intersecting Imaginaries” 

The No Longer Empty Curatorial Lab (NLE Lab) is addressing one of New York’s hot topics – community change – with its current exhibit NLE Lab: Intersecting Imaginaries. The subject matter, shown in visual form, explores the culture and current environment of the South Bronx, and at the same time, draws parallels with current changes going on throughout New York City. The exhibit addresses what happens when community connections are broken, and the many issues that affect the people who live there via site-specific works by a collection of artists. In this group exhibit, the artists bring to life their individual identities and a changing community by mapping place, time and identity. The exhibit takes place in a gallery location on the Grand Concourse that was once The Concourse Plaza Hotel. In conjunction with the exhibition, there will be a series of public programs.

Intersecting Imaginaries will be on view through December 13, located at 900 Grand Concourse storefront. To read more about the South Bronx, click here.

9. The Holiday Train Show Arrives at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx

Holiday Train Show NYBG Untapped Cities AFineLyne

Now in its twenty-fourth year, The New York Botanical Garden and Applied Imagination have filled the Enid a. Haupt Conservatory with the Holiday Train Show. This year, they have increased the size of the exhibit space by 3,000 square feet, adding dozens of new trains, bridges and tracks. The exhibit displays 150 of New York City’s landmarks from all five Boroughs. In addition, there are a series of related events including Bar Car Nights, Ice Sculpture Carving demonstrations, Cirque de Light performances, music, food and more.

The New York Botanical Garden is located at 2900 Southern Blvd. in the Bronx. The exhibit will be on view through January 18, 2016. Read about the Top 10 Secrets of the New York Botanical Garden here.

8. Luminaries, A Reimagined Holiday Tradition Arrives at Brookfield Place

Luminaries The Grammy in the Schools Untapped Cities

On December 2, ArtsBrookfield will debut an installation created by the design firm Rockwell Group. Luminaries is a reimagined holiday tradition – a spectacular lighting display that follows the glass enclosed topography of the Winter Garden at Brookfield Place. Visitors will be immersed in a glowing canopy of 650 custom lanterns embedded with LEDs, each capable of changing color and intensity. Wishing Stations will be positioned within the Winter Garden, and guests may send a ‘wish’ to the lanterns above, by placing their hands on the touch-sensitive stations, which pulse with color. Upon releasing your hands, color erupts in the canopy above, translating the wish into a mesmerizing display of colors that travel throughout the lanterns.

Brookfield has partnered with The Grammy Foundation’s “The Grammy in the Schools”, and for every wish sent by the public, ArtsBrookfield will donate $1 up to $25,000. Choreographed light shows are scheduled throughout the day and evening.

This installation in the Winter Garden, one of the city’s great indoor public spaces, is located at 230 Vesey Street, and will be on view through January 10, 2016. Read about Battery Park here.

7. An $8.5 Million Dollhouse on View at Columbus Circle


Dubbed “The World’s Most Valuable Dollhouse” and certainly the city’s most expensive piece of “real estate” at the moment, The Astolat Dollhouse Castle is appraised at $8.5 million, and for about a month, it will be on view inside The Shops at Columbus Circle. Built by miniaturist Elaine Diehl, the dollhouse took thirteen years to make and was completed in the 1980s. Handcraft techniques were used to make each of the 10,000 miniatures inside the twenty-nine rooms of the castle. There are even miniature rolls of toilet paper, a tiny antique Bible, and an antique Torah.

The castle is nine-feet tall, has seven levels, including hidden passageways, and weighs over eight-hundred pounds. The privately owned dollhouse is being shown to the public on a World Tour to fundraise (via donation at the display) for children’s charities. The Astolat Dollhouse will be on display only until December 8th on the second floor of The Time Warner Center.

6. SOFTlab Lights Up Flatiron Public Plaza for the Holidays with Nova

Nova Flatiron 2015 Untapped Cities AFineLyneA view of Nova, over Thanksgiving weekend, was of great interest to those passing by

Nova by SOFTlab was the winning proposal for the second annual Flatiron Public Plaza Holiday Design Competition held by the Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership Business Improvement District (BID), and Van Alen Institute. Nova utilizes the placement of scopes, which each point to a distinct landmark. By using a mix of optical materials, including 3M Dichroic Film, the design creates a human scale kaleidoscope where the viewer can see the Flatiron Building, Met Life Tower Clock, the Empire State Building and many others.

The installation is part of “23 Days of Flatiron Holiday Cheer,” which runs from December 1st to 23rd, with many free holiday themed events. The Flatiron Public Plaza is located at 24th Street, where Broadway meets Fifth Avenue. Nova will be on view through the holidays.

1-SOFTlab-Nova-Flatiron-Untapped-Cities-AFineLyneThe SOFTlab Team, along with the Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership setting up for the unveiling

5. Moshe Safdie Focusing on Dense Urbanism at The National Academy Museum

1-Habitat67-Safdie Untapped Cities AFineLyne copyHabitat 67 at The National Academy Museum

Global Citizen: The Architecture of Moshe Safdie, the current exhibit at The National Academy Museum, explores the life and work of this prominent architect and urban designer over the course of his fifty-year career. This exhibit, which covers all floors of the museum, has a specific focus on projects devoted to issues of dense urbanism, beginning on the first floor with his iconic Habitat ’67 buildings shown in Montreal, Canada. What New Yorkers may be surprised to discover, is that Safdie, who would go on to design the Singapore Marina Bay Sands Hotel, the Institute of Peace in Washington D.C. and the forthcoming new Jewel Changi Airport in Singapore, had planned Habitat schemes for the New York City waterfront as well.

In the current exhibit, Safdie rethinks his original design in light of global changes over the years, such as massive population increases, shifting real estate economics, and social and cultural transformations. The National Academy Museum is located at 1083 Fifth Avenue at 89th Street. Global Citizen: The Architecture of Moshe Safdie will be on view at The National Academy, one of the city’s oldest museums, until January 10, 2016.

4. Jacob Riis: Revealing New York’s Other Half at MCNY

"I Scrubs," Little Katie from the W. 52nd Street Industrial SchoPhoto by Jacob A. Riis. Image via MCNY, Gift of Roger William Riis

Jacob Riis (1849-1914) was a journalist and social reformer, carefully documenting his manuscripts, correspondence, clippings and annotated notebooks during the late 19th century and early 20th century. But what most people don’t know is that the photographs he took during this time, documenting the city’s slums, were forgotten in the attic of his home in Queens. His photographs were only discovered in the 1940s, decades after his death in 1914. The exhibit, Jacob Riis: Revealing New York’s Other Half, at The Museum of the City of New York is the first major retrospective of Riis’s photographic work. His photographic collection and archives will be on view until March 20, 2016, located at 1220 Fifth Avenue, between 103rd and 104th Streets. Read more about current and past exhibits at MCNY here.

3.  Affordable New York: A Housing Legacy at the MCNY

Affordable Housing at MCNY Untapped Cities AFineLyneThe NYCHA exhibit at the 1939-40 World’s Fair, June 8, 1940. La Guardia and Wagner Archives, La Guardia Community College/The City University of New York, courtesy of the New York City Housing Authority

This timely exhibit on affordable housing in New York City delves into the history of affordable housing and the battles that will be waged to create and preserve the 200,000 units of affordable housing promised in the next decade. The exhibit, Affordable New York: A Housing Legacy, now on view at The Museum of the City of New York, is curated by architectural historian and author Thomas Mellins.

New York City was a pioneering force behind the affordable housing movement in the 19th century, and was the first city to pass a comprehensive tenement house law, with philanthropic tenements appearing as early as 1877. The exhibit showcases the range of affordable housing initiatives, like Mitchell-Lama, Title 1, and Stuyvesant Town, and also adaptive reuse programs like Westbeth Center for the Arts in Greenwich Village. The Museum is located at 1220 Fifth Avenue between 103rd and 104th Streets. The exhibit is on view through February 16, 2016.

In a related event, Untapped Cities will co-sponsor a discussion titled Designing Better Affordable Housing at The Museum of the City of New York on Tuesday December 1, from 6:30-8:30 pm. A distinguished panel of developers, architects, and professors will be taking crowdsourced questions from the Untapped Cities community. You can register here, or submit your questions about affordable housing via the hashtag #UntappedMCNY on Twitter

2. “My Circle” Arrives at Union Square Triangle Park

My Circle-Beverly Pepper Union Square Untapped Cities AFineLyne“My Circle”, 2008. Artist Beverly Pepper

In celebration of artist Beverly Pepper’s 93rd birthday on December 20th, the Union Square Partnership, along with NYC Parks and the Marlborough Gallery, present the artist’s interactive sculpture to the Union Square Park Triangle. “My Circle” is the most recent installation of the City’s public art movement, which is meant to change the way pedestrians interact with space. The sculpture features an incomplete circle that represents imperfection, beginning and ending, and the “connectedness of existence.” The circle changes in shape, depending on where you stand. “My Circle” will be on view at the Union Square Triangle, located on the south-east edge of the park, through May 2016.

1. Dale Chihuly in New York for the Holidays

Dale Chihuly at Barney's Madison Avenue Untapped Cities AFineLyneThe Chihuly Holiday window at Barney’s on Madison Avenue

The Marlborough Gallery is exhibiting the sculptural glass work of artist Dale Chihuly concurrently with the holiday window installation at Barney’s flagship store. For Barney’s, Mr. Chihuly designed a signature window display in keeping with this year’s theme, “ChillinOut.”  The Chihuly piece, entitled Winter Brilliance, is composed of over 700 hand-blown elements that are hung like icy chandeliers. Music and a light show accentuate the work. In addition, the Marlborough Gallery on 57th Street is exhibiting a variety of striking Chihuly one-of-a-kind glass works.

Elsewhere in New York City, you can find Chihuly’s work as permanent installations in the first floor lobby and the 35th floor restaurant at the Mandarin Oriental on East 60th Street, the Rainbow Room’s 100 foot-long frieze at Rockefeller Center, and the Persian Window at St. Peter’s Church on Lexington Avenue and 54th Street.

Dale Chihuly: Winter Exhibition will be on view at The Marlborough Gallery, 40 West 57th Street, through January 2016. Winter Brilliance will be on view in the window at Barney’s Department Store, 660 Madison Avenue, through January 3.

Bonus: The Museum of Feelings

The pop-up Museum of Feelings is quite different from other temporary installations for one reason: it’s essentially the city’s mood ring. Located in Brookfield Place (already filled with art exhibits like Canstruction  and Luminaries) and run by S.C. Johnson & Co., prides itself in being “the first museum that reacts to emotions– and turns them into art.” Its facade changes color with New York City’s mood using social media and real-time data from sources like the New York Stock Exchange, local news, weather reports and flight delays. It uses other data like individual heart beats and Galvanic Skin Response to create emotion-reflecting selfies for visitors.

When you’re done, also discover the city’s best off-the-beaten path museums, open year round. Get in touch with the author at AFineLyne.