The Public Art Fund will open its newest exhibit “Discovering Columbus” on Thursday, and you can start reserving tickets now. The exhibit consists of a staircase that climbs up to the top of the 75-foot-tall granite column holding the statue of Christopher Columbus in Columbus Circle, leading to a “living room” built around the statue itself.

Update: Photo gallery!

Tatzu Nishi, the Japanese artist who conceived of the installation, is known for building these kinds of rooms around objects and statues. Here’s how the Public Art Fund describes it:

“Nishi’s project re-imagines the colossal 13-foot-tall statue of Columbus standing in a fully furnished, modern living room. Featuring tables, chairs, couch, rug, and flat-screen television, the décor reflects the artist’s interpretation of contemporary New York style. He even designed wallpaper inspired by memories of American popular culture, having watched Hollywood movies and television as a child in Japan. Discovering Columbus offers both a unique perspective on a historical monument and a surreal experience of the sculpture in a new context. Allowing us to take a journey up six flights of stairs to a fictional living room, Tatzu Nishi invites us to discover for ourselves where the imagination may lead.”

Our commenters have scoffed at it as a tourist “theme park,” and a critic for The Real Deal lamented the fact that it caused the circle to close for months: “What provokes my indignation is the decision of the Parks Department, which holds sway over this tiny island, to lock down the site, in whole or in part, for almost half a year, thus denying the citizens of New York the right to use their city in the way in which it was intended to be used.”

But now it’s here. And many of you will want to see it, if only to complain about how it didn’t live up to your expectations.

The exhibit will be open every day between September 20 and November 18 from 10 a.m. until 9 p.m. Because of high expected demand, visitors can only access the site for 30 minutes at a time, and you’ll have to reserve a spot in advance. The site is ADA compliant, with a “hoist” available for people who need it.

You can get tickets online here. Tickets will also be available inside the Time Warner Center at an information desk.

And please send us your impressions of the exhibit, good or bad!

Images via Public Art Fund.

ART, NEWS, REAL ESTATE | 14 comments | permalink
    1. jerry says:

      Well, the whole installation is ugly to the max. Just stand on 61st Street and look to the south. This Rube Goldberg contraption ruins what has been a much improved Columbus Circle. And, by the way, if you go to one of the restaurants that overlooks the Circle and Central Park, your view is marred and corrupted by this ill conceived example of public art.

    2. denton says:

      This is the worst ticket-ordering website ever. You get to pick a day and time, then fiddle with the captcha, only for it to tell you at that point there are no tix. Plus you get to enter your info three times.

    3. Liz says:

      The Circle was closed for months because of this foolishness. Columbus probably wishes they would “un-discover” this addition to his place of honor. He needs a new home. How about Verdi Square Park?

      Something tells me that Janet Sadik-Khan had a hand in this lunacy. There’s a hoist for those who have difficulty walking. What no bicycle lane?

    4. Ivan says:

      Had no problem getting a ticket for tomorrow at 4:00 p.m. Took about 1.5 minutes.

      Curious to see what the hideous facade hides. I have seen pictures of his other works, if you ignore the infrastructure, the stuff looks rather nifty. Will be back with more…

      • Ivan says:

        Went there at 4:00 p.m. on 9/20/2012. There was 40 minutes or so wait because a limited number of people are allowed at a time.

        I really enjoyed the installation, what a wonderful idea to have a full-sized public statue in one’s living room. The views from the windows are spectacular, of course, with a novel perspective of Columbus Circle.

        It it is true, as Denton said, that after the installation is over the scaffolding will be used to restore the monument that’s what the French would call: “joindre l’utile à l’agréable.”

        If you take pictures, be advised that it is a smallish room and you’ll need a wide angle lens.

    5. Derek says:

      All these detractors are probably the same UWS “preservationist” lunatics who lobbied to save the beloved Lollipop Building a few years back. What a bunch of whiners!

      • jerry says:

        I really have no desire to respond to a “reply.” But – Derek – you assume too much when you write “probably.” It undermines your position, because, in this case, your presumption is absolutely wrong.

        • margaret says:

          This artist has wonderful works all over the world, and we can’t enjoy this for just a bit? You can’t even see the little statue of Columbus anyway, so I think it’s sort of fascinating that you get to view it up close. This isn’t a permanent structure so who cares? Also – what good restaurants are on Columbus Circle? Ugh!

    6. Gary says:

      Went today/Thur. morning after making reservations Wed. night. Picked up the tickets on the 3rd fl. across the street. My 10:30 time slot actually didn’t get up to the room until 11. Spectacular exhibit & views!

    7. denton says:

      I should remind all the haters that the scaffolding will be used to repair/restore the monument afterwards. So turning a regular construction project with scaffolding into something open to the public is pretty cool.

    8. Hi..

      Would love to comment on having actually viewed the exhibit but cannot manage to secure tickets using the linked site this article directed me to…
      Suggestions? Solutions?
      I did talk with someone at the Accurate(?) ticket center–but they simply encouraged me to try, try again!


      • admin says:

        Thanks Valerie. We’ve been hearing some mixed things about the online system, but some people have been able to get tickets without much trouble. We’ll try to contact the Public Art Fund about this. Let us know if you have any luck.

    9. terry says:

      Site is NG. tried multiple times for several minutes- BIG – NG- site does not respond-

    10. roni raviv says:

      want to get tickets but could not. please help me