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Image by Gary Gershoff/Getty Images for Amazon Studios

The Panorama of the City of New York has long been the jewel of the Queens Museum. Commissioned by Robert Moses for the 1964 World’s Fair, the 9,335-square-foot architectural model is the museum’s best-known permanent exhibition, boasting over 895,000 plastic and hand-painting wooden structures that represent every single building constructed in all five boroughs before 1992. In the decades since its installation, the attraction has been updated and renovated several times. The latest update is the replacement of its outdated lighting system, which was unveiled on October 25.

Image by Gary Gershoff/Getty Images for Amazon Studios

The debut was timed to coincide with the U.S. release of the Todd Haynes’ film Wonderstruck, based on a novel by Brian Selznick, which follows the story of two children who set out on a quest to find answers about their family; scenes from the movie were partly filmed on the Panorama itself.

With funds provided by Amazon Studios, the state-of-the-art system introduces a contemporary and sustainable lighting scheme that incorporates LED lights, which have replaced the out-of-date black-light bulbs from the 1960s. Utilizing specialized software, the upgrade also brings back the legendary night-lighting of the Panorama. That means visitors can watch the model transition from day to night, and see the “psychedelic effect of black light” that transforms it into a glowing, after-dark experience. A press release notes that this effect was only seen by those who attended the 1964 World’s Fair or visited the exhibit before the early 1990s.

“This whole entire new system is illuminating parts of the model that have not been illuminated in many, many years,” said Louise Weinberg, registrar and archives manager at the Queens Museum.

“[The Panorama] immediately becomes personal as you point out all the places you know, the places you’ve lived, visited, walked,” says Brian Selznick, the writer of Wonderstruck. “I hope that Wonderstruck, and the restoration of the Panorama’s lighting to its original magnificence, will encourage even more people to take the trip out to Queens where they can spend the afternoon discovering a miniature masterpiece, hiding in plain sight.”

Next, read more about the Panorama of the City of New York and discover the Top 10 Secrets of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.

 Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, Panorama, queens, Queens Museum

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