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The beautiful ruins of a ballroom now stand in Central Park

This open-air art installation takes a once exclusive space and opens it to all.


One of New York City’s legendary ballrooms is once again open — this time for anyone to enjoy.

Open House” recreates the Gilded Age-era ballroom of a long-gone Fifth Avenue mansion at the southeast corner of Central Park at 60th Street and Fifth Avenue. But instead of marble, oak and velvet, Los Angeles-based artist Liz Glynn’s archways and Louis XIV-style chairs, ottomans and sofas are all cast from concrete in exquisite detail. It's reminiscent of an archeological site, as if the ballroom were excavated on the plaza.

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Every facet of the exhibit, which is open now through Sept. 24, is about taking what used to be private and making it accessible to the public once again. The early 20th century was another time of deep economic divide when class differences segregated the city into the haves and have-nots.

The 26 sculptures on Doris C. Freedman Plaza are made from the most populist of building materials, set on public space and can be used not just as a social parlor for the wealthy but, well, anything you can do comfortably (and without being arrested) on a concrete chaise.

“Her installation poses important questions about how we create displays of wealth, and the ways in which distinctions between public and private space continue to reinforce and reflect class differences,” says associate curator Daniel S. Palmer of thePublic Art Fund, which installed the work.

If there was ever a time to jump on the furniture, this is it. Check out a walkthrough of the exhibit with Glynn:


 

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