From pieces commissioned by MTA Arts and Design to original decorative tiles in the very first subway stations and guerilla art projects that pop up every now and then, the New York City subway system is full of art. While most subway art is easily accessible, there have been art installations in abandoned subway spaces that would have been illegal and dangerous to view. In our upcoming virtual talk on abandoned subway stations, you can relive some of these installations from the safety and comfort of your home as Untapped New York’s Chief Experience Officer Justin Rivers and our Artist-in-Residence Aaron Asis guide you through the many neglected spaces below New York City’s streets. Keep reading to discover seven art installations in abandoned subway stations!
1. The Masstransiscope at Myrtle Ave
The Masstransiscope is a unique art project originally created by Bill Brand in 1980. It is located inside the abandoned Myrtle Ave subway station that used to be part of the Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit line between Manhattan Bridge and DeKalb Avenue. When the line in that area of Brooklyn was rebuilt, the Myrtle Avenue station lost its southbound platform and the northbound platform was closed off.
Abandoned Subway Stations
The Masstransiscope is a giant zoetrope, an early form of animation that pre-dates film. It creates the illusion of motion with a sequence of images that show progressive stages of motion. Brand’s zoetrope is made up of 228 colorful hand-painted images that appear to move as the subway train rides along the sequence. The piece was restored in 2008 and 2013. You can watch the 20-second sequence as you travel on a northbound express train from the DeKalb Avenue station.