Image by MTA Museum and featured with permission
NYC’s subway is, needless to say, often deemed as a means to an end rather than an end itself, and its occupants aren’t likely to hang around at its stations to stare at their walls.
Perhaps it’s time to stop and smell the roses—or to be more precise, the pee and mildew—that grace the city’s public transport stations. To encourage this activity, a pair of art students have launched ‘MTA Museum’, an Instagram project that celebrates the gritty side of New York.
The duo, who wish to remain anonymous, have been tagging food debris, chewing gum, dead cockroaches, and more, with labels you would expect to find at art galleries.
The tongue-in-cheek descriptions from the guerilla “museum” aim to urge passengers to revere the subway system as a 114-year-old piece of history, rather than an outdated creature of habit.
“We wanted to explain those pieces that represent the everyday lives of New Yorkers in a humorous way,” the account’s founders relate to NBC New York. “And we wanted to change the negative ‘old’ perception of [the subway] to fun and historical ‘old.’”
One notable exhibit is the Concrete Jungle Dreams of Bubble Gum artwork, which the two describe as a canvas of saliva-soaked “black organic shapes” that takes inspiration from the polka-dotted style of Japanese contemporary artist Yayoi Kusama.
There’s also the Untitled | Butt Pattern bench at Bedford Avenue station, “meticulously” fashioned by the posteriors of millions of New Yorkers throughout the century.
Aside from a label, each artwork is accompanied with an ‘audio guide’ to stay on brand with traditional museums. The descriptions are narrated by a computer because “as students, we had a low budget,” the founders explain.
See the city’s most overlooked masterpieces with new eyes in the images below, and click on the arrows in the carousels to hear their ‘audio guides’. Follow MTA Museum on its Instagram to enjoy more curations from the “museum” that never sleeps.