Editors’ Picks: 11 New York Events for Your Holiday Art Calendar, From Charles Dickens at the Morgan to the Met’s Christmas Tree Display
Plus, this year's public art installation at the Flatiron Plaza.
Each week, we search for the most exciting and thought-provoking shows, screenings, and events, both digitally and in-person in the New York area. See our picks from around the world below. (Times are all E.S.T. unless otherwise noted.) We will be taking a break from next week’s listings; Editors’ Picks will resume the week of January 3, 2022.
Through Friday, December 31
1. “Interwoven by Atelier Cho Thompson” at North Flatiron Public Plaza
You have until the end of the year to catch “Interwoven,” Atelier Cho Thompason’s installation for the eighth annual Flatiron Public Plaza Holiday Design Competition. Taking inspiration from the image of New York City as a complex tapestry, “Interwoven” features steel-framed archways, a hammock, and benches decorated with colored netting, resin panels, and high-density cork. The piece is interactive, sensing the motion of visitors walking through the space and lighting up and playing music when two people pass through openings with matching colors.
Location: The North Flatiron Public Plaza at the intersection of Broadway, Fifth Avenue, and 23rd Street
Time: Open daily, at all times
Through Sunday, January 1
2. “Luminaries” at the Winter Garden at Brookfield Place
Design firm LAB at Rockwell Group’s annual installation of glowing colored lights hung from the ceiling of Brookfield Place is back with a participatory twist: This year, guests can conduct the canopy in an interactive experience called “Maestro.” There is also an hourly light show, and you can make a glowing, motion-activated wish throughout the day. Brookfield will donate $1, up to $25,000, to the nonprofit City Harvest.
Location: Brookfield Place, Winter Garden, 230 Vesey Street, New York
Time: Light shows on the hour, 8 a.m.–10 p.m.; wishing 10 a.m.–8 p.m.
Through Sunday, January 9, 2022
3. “Charles Dickens and the Spirit of Christmas” at the Morgan Library and Museum
Every year, the Morgan Library and Museum brings out the original manuscript of Charles Dickens’s beloved A Christmas Carol. This time around, the curators have chosen to open the holiday classic to the page where Scrooge might be at his Scrooge-iest: turning down dinner with his nephew and snapping at poor, underpaid Bob Cratchit for daring to show some Christmas cheer.
Location: The Morgan Library and Museum, 225 Madison Avenue, New York
Time: Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday, 10:30 a.m.–5 p.m.; Friday, 10:30 a.m.–7 p.m.; closing 4 p.m. December 24; closed December 25 and January 1
4. “Christmas Tree and Neapolitan Baroque Crèche” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
A truly classic New York holiday tradition is the Met’s Christmas tree, a 20-foot-tall blue spruce, at the foot of which rests an 18th-century Neapolitan Nativity scene, with heavenly Baroque angels hanging from the evergreen boughs. An 18th-century Spanish choir screen from the Cathedral of Valladolid provides a dramatic backdrop to the display in the museum’s medieval sculpture hall.
Location: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 Fifth Avenue, New York
Price: General admission, adults $25; seniors $17; students $12; children under 12 free
Time: Sunday–Tuesday and Thursday, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.; Friday–Saturday, 10 a.m.–9 p.m.; closed December 25 and January 1
5. “Winter Lantern Festival” at the Queens County Farm Museum, Staten Island’s Snug Harbor Cultural Center, and the Nassau County Museum of Art, Rosalyn
A Staten Island mainstay the last two years, the Winter Lantern Festival has expanded to Queens and Nassau County for 2021 with a unique theme at each location: “Escape in Snug Harbor, “Illuminate the Farm” in Queens, and “A Bug’s Night” at the Nassau County Museum (the only drive-through experience). Each light show features handmade lanterns in the shape of plants and animals, transforming each venue into a world of luminescence.
Location: Nassau County Museum of Art, One Museum Drive, Roslyn; Snug Harbor Cultural Center, 1000 Richmond Terrace, Staten Island; and Queens County Farm Museum, Little Neck Parkway, Queens
Price: Staten Island and Queens adult admission $29.99 December 23–January 2, otherwise $24.99; Nassau $34.99 per car weekdays, $59.99 per car weekends
Time: Staten Island and Queens, 4:30 p.m.–9:30 p.m.; Nassau, 5 p.m.–9:30 p.m.
Monday, December 20
6. “Lightscape” at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden
The Brooklyn Botanical Garden has hopped on the holiday light show bandwagon with a nighttime illuminated trail across its 52-acre grounds. There are more than 18 original artworks in the display, three of which are by local Brookln artists. That includes A Theorem: Remembered (2021), a sculptural, site-specific string, and light installation designed by Jacob M. Fisher with 50,000 feet of colorful string adorning a 35-foot tall metal pyramid structure that recalls a pine tree. The artist uses projection mapping to cover the piece with ever-shifting multi-colored geometric patterns. Among other highlights are the Mandylights’ Winter Cathedral, which takes the shape of a traditional Gothic arch, updated for the 21st century with thousands of LED lights in a 100-foot-long tunnel, and Ashley Bertling’s more low-tech Fire Garden, featuring real candle light.
Location: Brooklyn Botanic Garden, 990 Washington Avenue, Brooklyn
Price: $34 for adults
Time: 4:45 p.m.–8:30 p.m.; closed December 25 and January 3–5
7. “The Origami Holiday Tree” at the American Museum of Natural History, New York
For the 50th anniversary of the American Museum of Natural History’s origami Christmas tree, the institution is also celebrating its newly renovated Hall of Gems and Minerals with a “Gems of the Museum” theme. The over 1,000 folded paper creations from Origami USA include 50 special gold ornaments and models of glittering gemstones. The museum is also letting other parts of its collection shine, with origami versions of its famed blue whale and Tyrannosaurus rex, as well as pieces inspired by its new “Sharks” exhibition (through August 14, 2022).
Location: American Museum of Natural History 200 Central Park West, New York
Price: General Admission, $23; Students and Seniors, $18; Children (2–12) ,$13.
Time: Open daily, 10 a.m. 6 p.m.; closed December 25
Through Friday, January 14, 2022
8. “Lisa Congdon at Rockefeller Center,” New York
The Art Production Fund has once again partnered with Rockefeller Center to commission an artist-drawn map of the complex and its famed 79-foot-tall Norway spruce Christmas tree—lit each day from 6 a.m. through midnight—for the holiday season. Visitors can take home a copy of Lisa Congdon’s quirky illustrations, inspired by mid-century New York City, and see large-scale versions of the artwork displayed throughout Rockefeller Center.
Location: Rockefeller Center, 10 Rockefeller Plaza, 30 Rockefeller Plaza, 45 Rockefeller Plaza, and 50 Rockefeller Plaza
Time: Open daily, at all times
Through Sunday, January 23, 2022
9. “Holiday Train Show” and “Glow” at the New York Botanical Garden, the Bronx
A New York Christmas mainstay returns for its 30th year, filling the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory with a stunning array of botanical sculptures recreating 175 famous city landmarks—both extant architectural favorites and some of those great buildings lost to history—entirely of plant materials. Chugging through the display are a fleet G-scale trains. The festivities extend outside as well, with an illuminated experience featuring thousands of LED bulbs lighting a 1.5 miles path across the garden grounds to installations christened with names like “Fluorescent Fungi,” “Glittering Gazebo,” and “Twinkling Topiaries.”
Location: The New York Botanical Garden, 2900 Southern Boulevard, the Bronx
Price: Daytime adult tickets starting at $32, evening adult tickets from $49
Time: Tuesday–Sunday, 10 a.m.–6 p.m.; December 23, 26–30 and January 1, 6–8, 14, 15, 21, 22, evening hours 5 p.m.–10 p.m.
10. “The Present Moment” at Bergdorf Goodman
New York City’s grand tradition of Christmas window displays has been somewhat diminished in recent years, but you can still catch seasonal displays at department stores including Macy’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Bloomingdale’s (plus an honorable mention for Cartier’s ribbon-clad building). But for me, the one to see is always Bergdorf’s, where the endlessly creative mind of window dresser David Hoey has gone more over-the-top and opulently detailed than ever after 2020’s restrained designs. (The monochromatic one-word sculptures were meant to encourage social distancing.) His team of 150 worked for nine months to bring to life his vision of inducing “aesthetic delirium,” with individual themes such as “Harmonious,” “Euphoric,” and “Delirious” all meant to capture the importance of living in the moment.
Location: Bergdorf Goodman’s, 754 5th Ave, New York
Time: Open daily, at all times
11. “The Fifth Season” at the Pulitzer Fountain, New York
In perhaps the most elaborate addition to the city’s holiday decor, the Fifth Avenue Association has spent three times its annual budget to erect an illuminated Winter Wonderland at the south corner of Central Park, according to Crain’s New York. That includes surrounding the Pulitzer Fountain with 24 icebergs and 32 animal sculptures, some motorized and all handcrafted by Brooklyn’s Harlequin Design. (The firm is also responsible for this year’s windows at Macy’s.) The new installation joins the larger-than-life toy light displays, titled “Make It Bright.”
Location: 764 Central Park South (East 59th Street and Fifth Ave, New York)
Time: Open daily, at all times
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