The New York City subway is bursting with amazing works of art, and while they are all fun to look at, there are some you can directly interact with! One piece inspires you to create a musical duet with strangers across the tracks while another immerses you in sounds created by subway air, and others allow you to engage with the station’s past. We’ve rounded up five of the most exciting interactive subway art pieces that you can enjoy while waiting for your subway to arrive!

You can discover even more amazing works of subway art in our upcoming talk with Untapped New York’s Chief Experience Officer Justin Rivers! In this talk, Justin will revisit favorite works of art and also explore new pieces that haven’t been covered in his previous talk.

Art in the NYC Subway

Tickets to this talk are just $10. You can gain access to unlimited free virtual events per month and unlock a video archive of 100+ past events as an Untapped New York Insider starting at $10/month. Already an Insider? Register here! Can’t make it live? Register for this virtual talk and we’ll email you a recording of it after it ends.

1. Reach New York at 34th Street Herald Square

While standing on the 34th Street-Herald Square subway platforms for the uptown or downtown N/R train, don’t be surprised if you hear a spontaneous outburst of musical notes. The sound is coming from that large green rectangular box above the platform. This interactive subway art installation, titled Reach New York, An Urban Musical Instrument, was created by artist Christopher Janney in 1996.

Janney’s creation, which could easily be overlooked as a piece of station infrastructure, is meant to inspire interaction between strangers waiting for their trains. Here’s how it works: When you place your hand in front of one of the sensors indicated by white circles, musical notes ring out on the opposite platform and the lights illuminate. You can go back and forth creating a musical duet from across the tracks!