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A project of Creative Time. Photo by Jason Wyche. Image via Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York. Artwork © 2014 Kara Walker.

While New York City is home to world renowned art institutions such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Guggenheim Museum, stunning works of art are scattered in public places across the city. Many of us are already familiar with works like Isamu Noguchi’s Red Cube, Kristen Visbal’s Fearless Girl and most recently, Ai Weiwei’s Good Fences Make Good Neighbors. Some serve as centerpieces in parks, plazas and subway stations while others add a dash of color to seemingly forgotten areas, like empty lots and abandoned buildings. This wide variety of works — both temporary and permanent — add dynamism to the already thriving cultural hub that is New York City.

New Yorkers have various public and private art initiatives (Creative Time, Percent for Art and MTA’s Arts for Transit, etc.) to thank for what the Museum of the City of New York describes as “the most ambitious urban art programming in the world.” Presented to mark the 40th anniversary of the Public Art Fund, the museum’s latest exhibit, Art in the Open: Fifty Years of Public Art in New York, celebrates and chronicles the last half century of art and innovation across the five boroughs. It features over 125 objects, including pieces by Kara Walker, Keith Haring, Roy Lichtenstein, and Christo and Jeanne-Claude.

As a sneak preview of Art in the Open: Fifty Years of Public Art in New Yorkwhich runs from November 10, 2017 – Sunday, May 13, 2018, we’ve rounded up 10 highlights and notable works that are touched upon in the exhibition:

10. Bill Brand’s Masstransiscope (1980-ongoing)

Artist and filmmaker Bill Brand’s Masstransiscope is one of those great serendipitous surprises to brighten up your commute. Installed by Arts for Transit in 1980, the piece works like a giant zoetrope (a type of animation that creates the appearance of motion as images inside a spinning cylinder are viewed through slits). In this case, Brand’s cartoon comes to life through the movement of the subway. It’s located in Brooklyn’s abandoned Myrtle Avenue subway station, which used to be a stop on the Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit line between Manhattan Bridge and DeKalb Avenue.

According to Brand’s website, the work “consists of a series of 30” high images housed inside a long wood and steel structure with narrow slits, through which the images are seen.” Restored in 2008 and in 2013, the artwork is painted on 300 feet of reflected material and the inside is illuminated by fluorescent lights. You can view it on the B and Q trains as they approach the Manhattan Bridge. Read more here.

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