New York’s subway station at 81st and Central Park West (CPW), also known as the AMNH subway station, was first opened on 10 September 1932, and rennovation of this station was completed in 1999 after the planetarium had been added to the Natural History Museum in 1990 (at a great cost that still has not been paid off, might I add). The art at this subway station was produced by the MTA Arts for Transit Design Team in cooperation with the Museum of Natural History and is a study of the evolution of life from the big bang to the present day. The entire collection at this station is entitled For Want of a Nail, which alludes to the interconnectedness of all life. Many of the pieces have a red question mark on them, for reasons that escape me, although it might be associated with the enduring questions that humans like to ask; “Where did we come from? Where are we going? What is the meaning of life?”
The uptown subway stop (upstairs) is a collection of ceramic and glass tile and glass mosaics depicting a variety of animal species, extinct and extant, that I have been presenting to you this past month and a half. The stairways leading to the downtown (southbound) platform, which is located downstairs appropriately enough, are also filled with lovely ceramic, tile and glass mosaics, depicting a “Journey to the Center of the Earth” as I’ve dubbed it, the ocean (southern stairway), and starry sky (northern stairway).
The entire downtown platform consists of a series of fossil casts, making this platform resemble a fossil dig. These fossil casts are identified with the name of the animal in small type on the tiles next to them. These bronze relief casts are quite difficult to photograph because of awkward lighting, so they resemble dark blobs instead of bronze fossil casts. These casts include the singularly beautiful Berlin Archaeopteryx, which is one of my most favorite of all fossils, due to its artistic and scientific beauties. I shall endeavor to share those casts with you as soon as I figure out how to photograph them satisfactorily.
I originally started posting these images because several tile mosaic animals at this subway platform have been especially beautiful to my eye (the coelacanth is truly exquisite). I had no idea that this series would be as popular as it is, but because you’ve been so interested in it (many private emails, although, alas, fewer comments), I continued to share these images with you. To the best of my knowledge, no one has ever identified all the animals depicted by these art works, so my blog presentation is “A First” in that sense.
If you wish to see the entire series of AMNH subway tile art images I’ve been presenting, click here for the archives. Be sure to come back and check again, because there ar emore images on the way.