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MTA Arts & Design

File:Scarborough Train Station (2).jpg
An Arts & Design installation at Metro-North's Scarborough station

MTA Arts & Design, formerly known as Arts for Transit and Urban Design,[1] is a commissioned art program directed by the Metropolitan Transit Authority for the transportation systems serving New York City and the surrounding region. Since its inception in 1985, the program has installed art in over 200 transit stations.[2] The art is intended to be site-specific with an overall goal of improving the transit stations for the general public.[3][4]

Under its original name "Arts for Transit and Urban Design", the program was created in 1985 as part of an ongoing capital improvement program. Most works of art are of ceramic tile, bronze or glass materials to ensure maintainability. Other mediums include digital art, poetry and posters.[1] The program is not limited to visual art, however. The Music Under New York program holds annual auditions to provide music performances to roughly 25 spots in the subway system.[5]

Notable artists commissioned through the program include Vito Acconci, Romare Bearden, Eric Fischl, Robert Kushner, Jacob Lawrence, Sol LeWitt, Roy Lichtenstein, Maya Lin, Mary Miss, Elizabeth Murray, Dennis Oppenheim, Faith Ringgold, and Alison Saar.[4] One of the more notable works, Life Underground by Tom Otterness, incorporates over 100 pieces throughout the 14th Street – Eighth Avenue station of the New York City Subway.[6] Sky Reflector-Net was installed in 2014 in the new Fulton Center transit hub. It uses hundreds of aluminum mirrors to provide natural sunlight from a 53-foot skylight to an underground area as much as four stories deep.[7] This is the first intentional skylight in the New York City Subway system since the 1945 closure of the original City Hall station.[8][9]


  1. 1.0 1.1 "MTA Arts & Design – History". Metropolitan Transit Authority. Retrieved February 16, 2015. 
  2. Maloney, Jennifer (March 14, 2012). "Transit Art Gets New App". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved February 15, 2015. 
  3. "MTA Arts & Design – Artists Opportunities". Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Retrieved February 16, 2015. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 Dunlap, David W. (January 21, 2007). "Train to the Museum? You're Already There". The New York Times. Retrieved February 16, 2015. 
  5. Susman, Tina (June 12, 2012). "Auditioning for a spotlight under the city". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 16, 2015. 
  6. Johnston, Lauren (October 4, 2007). "Otterness: Private studio of the very public artist". AM New York. Retrieved February 16, 2015. 
  7. Solomon, Benjamin; Li, Shirley (June 25, 2014). "NY's Subway Will Soon See Daylight for the First Time Ever". Wired. Retrieved February 16, 2015. 
  8. "A Visit to the City Hall Subway Station". Gothamist. February 2, 2007. Retrieved May 2, 2015. 
  9. "Historic Station Closed After 41 Years". The New York Times. January 1, 1946. p. 22. Retrieved May 30, 2010. 

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