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Outdoor Art Comes to the Five Boroughs

Jaume Plensa: Echo, 2011 (rendering); May 5 – August 14, 2011, in Madison Square Park, New York City; presented by the Madison Square Park Conservancy. Rendering courtesy of the artist and Galerie Lelong.

May 2, 2011 - During the month of May, there are plenty of ways to experience culture in the great outdoors. Public art beautifies the cityscape so this spring spaces around the City will unveil some truly incredible (and free) installations. For those that have already visited all of the manmade works of art that grace our streets, the City’s four botanical gardens allow residents and visitors to commune with the unmatched beauty of flora and fauna from around the globe. So if you are in any of New York’s five boroughs this May, all you need to do to experience some of the most exciting art on display anywhere in the world is step outside.

Public Art Installations

Ai Weiwei’s Circle of Animals / Zodiac Heads
Central Park - The Pulitzer Fountain
May 2-July 15
Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads, the first major public art sculpture by celebrated contemporary Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, makes its outdoor debut in New York at the historic Pulitzer Fountain in Grand Army Plaza, the gateway to Central Park. Comprised of twelve monumental bronze animal heads, Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads was inspired by the fabled fountain-clock of the Yuanming Yuan, an 18th-century imperial retreat just outside Beijing.

Echo, a new installation by Spanish sculptor Jaume Plensa
Madison Square Park
May 5-August 14
This enormous sculpture comprised of white fiberglass resin depicts the tranquil face of a young girl in a dream state. At 44-feet tall Plensa’s site-specific sculpture will mark the single largest monolithic work of art presented in the 7-year history of Mad. Sq. Art.

Sol LeWitt: Structures
City Hall Park
May 24-December 2
This is the first-ever outdoor career survey of Sol LeWitt’s sculptures – or “structures” as he liked to call them. Sponsored by Public Art Fund, this installation will bring together pieces from the 1960s to 2006 that have never before shared an exhibition space, and several major works that will be installed publicly in the United States for the first time.

Botanical Gardens

Brooklyn Botanic Garden
900 Washington Avenue, Brooklyn
Though their world famous cherry blossoms will, for the most part, be underfoot when May rolls around, other parts of Brooklyn Botanic Garden will just be getting started. The Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden is the most popular of its kind outside of Japan, and the Native Flora Garden gives visitors a chance to see what the area was like before it was even called New Amsterdam. May 4-5 is the annual BBG plant sale, so you can take a piece of the garden home with you. Admission is $10, $5 for students and seniors, and free for children under 12.

The New York Botanical Garden
Bronx River Parkway at Fordham Road, Bronx

This May, one of the world’s great botanical gardens will introduce its latest addition: the Azalea Garden. At this 11-acre site, nearly 3,000 azaleas and rhododendrons offer an encyclopedic collection of the world's azaleas planted along a broad hillside punctuated by rock outcrops and shaded by mature native trees. Opening parties on the weekends of May 7-8 and May 14-15 will serve to celebrate this beautiful new space. Admission to the opening weekends requires an All-Garden Pass. Adult passes are $20, students & senior passes are $18, passes for children 2–12 are $8, and children under 2 are free.

Queens Botanical Garden
43-50 Main Street, Flushing, Queens

From thematic gardens and historic plantings recalling QBG’s World’s Fair origins to new gardens under way showcasing native species and sustainable landscape practices, the collections here represent the expert horticultural knowledge, artistry, and commitment to environmental education and public service that have been hallmarks of QBG for more than 60 years. On May 21, join QBG for a free street tree care workshop to learn how you can help water and care for one of the over 400,000 new trees that have been planted across NYC with MillionTreesNYC. Admission is $4 for adults, $3 for seniors, and $2 for students and children over 3 years of age. Children under 3 are free.

Snug Harbor Botanical Garden
1000 Richmond Terrace, Staten Island

Nestled within the grounds of the Snug Harbor Cultural Campus are several beautiful gardens all serving different purposes for the community. Throughout history, gardens have reflected some of the tastes of the periods and the ways in which man saw his relationship to nature. Remaining true to this purpose, the Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden has created a number of gardens which include representations from particular periods along with contemporary styles. Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for seniors & students, and free for kids 12 and under.
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