It’s an honor bestowed on few people: Miracle on the Hudson’s Captain Chesley Sullenberger, subway hero Wesley Autrey and His Holiness the Dalai Lama all have keys to the city. But a new public art project by Paul Ramirez Jonas invites normal New Yorkers and tourists to bestow keys to each other that will unlock 24 back doors, front gates and other secret spots in the city’s public spaces. An accompanying ‘passport’ lists locations to be unlocked.
“It will encourage people to venture into neighborhoods they might not otherwise have visited,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Thursday.
The master key — 25,000 of which have been manufactured so far — opens a garden maintained by monks at the Staten Island Buddhist Vihara, a locker at the Gleason’s gym in DUMBO, a private room at the Jackson Heights restaurant, Tortilla Nixtamal and (spoiler alert!) a secret door at the Brooklyn Museum hiding a Faberge jewel collection.
Creative Time, the public arts nonprofit organizing the project, will distribute keys at a Times Square kiosk until June 27. They will unlock what Ramirez Jonas calls “hidden treasures in plain sight” through Labor Day.