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New York MTA to Roll Out a Public Art App

LOS ANGELES — The New York subway has always featured a host of great public art. From Tom Otterness’s famous figurines causing mischief at 14th Street and Eighth Avenue to the performers at Union Square and Times Square, the MTA’a Arts for Transit program provides a welcome respite from the usual grind of taking the subway.

Screenshots from the new MTA Arts for Transite smartphone app.

Which is why the announcement of a new app brought some buzz yesterday in art circles. The app, announced in the New York Times, will make it easy to locate “the 186 permanent works installed throughout the stations” and even “to a few dozen more in the Metro North and Long Island Rail Road systems.”

The MTA currently features arts listings on its web site, but it's impossible to access the data underground.
The MTA currently features arts listings on its website, but it's impossible to access the data underground.

According to the article, you’ll be able to sort for art either by artist or subway line, and, like other museum apps I’ve reviewed, you’ll be able to access a map and even guided audio interviews, complete with syncing for underground access.

This is good news. Aside from the most obvious and outstanding pieces, it can often be difficult to locate the art floating around the subway system. The app could effectively turn the subways into an underground museum of sorts, allowing visitors and residents to quickly learn about what they can find.

And if the model works, it could be applied to other public art programs, likeLA’s Metro system (where almost every station has commissioned art) and Denver’s diverse and extensive public art installations.

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