Mass Appeal’s Guide to NYC’s Subway Art

If you’re familiar with the twisting, turning, potentially perilous underground network that is NYC’s MTA Subway system, chance are you’re doing very little to nothing in the vein of aesthetic appreciation. Sure, you may come across the occasional Subway musical ensemble, or Tom Otterness’ copper works “Life Underground,” or perhaps even the MTA’s longstanding “Poetry in Motion” series, but it is rare that commuters take the time to check out all of the MTA’s aesthetic visual idiosyncrasies.


With 250 different works of art sprinkled throughout the MTA system, it was only a matter of time before they received a catalog. Thanks to Sandra Bloodworth, Director of the MTA Arts & Design (formerly known as MTA Arts for Transit), now folks can check out some of the work that’s been lost in the blur of big city commuting.

Bloodworth linked up with William Ayres, an independent curator commissioned for the project, to create New York’s Underground Art Museum: MTA Arts & Design.


This new book will catalogue all that the artwork found throughout the system. Published by Monacelli Press, the book is a follow-up to a previous effort by Bloodworth and Ayres. The two originally collaborated on 2006’s Along The Way, a similar catalogue of MTA art, but found that since the release of the book, artists have been knocking out pieces for the MTA like McGwire with the maple.


In an excerpt from the book, the authors share that the significance MTA’s body of work is undervalued, “At any given time, more than fifty new artworks are in progress, a fact that makes MTA Arts & Design one of the largest sources of public art commissions in the world.” They continue to note the immense potential the MTA Arts & Design department has to visually overhaul NYC’s subway system.

The book itself focuses solely on the work done by MTA Arts & Design, but does venerably note the significance of artwork installed in the NYC subway system during the early 1900s that can still be spotted to this day.

This is a dope one you can throw on the coffee table for sure, or lug around with you next time you hit the NYC subway. Old Man Winter is about to roll through, and folks will probably be spending a lot of time on mass transit, why not spend the time immersing yourself in the arts?

New York’s Underground Art Museum: MTA Arts & Design is now available via Monacelli Press.

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