Getting Small: The City in Miniatures

MAY 10, 2011

Miniature cityscapes and tiny tableaux bring perspective to life in the big city.

The Panorama at the Queens Museum of art is the act to follow when it comes to itty bitty New York City. Built by Robert Moses for the 1964 World’s Fair, this 9,335 square foot architectural model truly must be seen to be believed: It includes every single building constructed before 1992 in all five boroughs—a total of 895,000 individual structures.

A few less-grand versions of the Big Apple made small are no less inspiring: Artist Alan Wolfson creates handmade miniature versions of city buildings, complete with complex interior views and lighting effects. His matchbox-sized subway stations, diners and even a cross-section of a city street are not exact representations, but rather a combination of details from many different locations. According to the artist’s bio, “There is a narrative element to the work. Scenarios are played out through the use of inanimate objects in the scene…a sense of motion and a storyline.” One of Wolfson’s miniature city scenes is currently on view at the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) as part of the exhibition Otherworldly: Optical Delusions and Small Realities through September 18, 2011.

Jonathan Lopes sees a small world from yet another angle. The artist and Brooklyn resident has carefully recreated city blocks in his borough entirely in LEGOs. Working on the project for over seven years (the project is ongoing) in his 400-square-foot living room, Lopes says that the LEGO kit cityscapes are difficult to move; he hopes to be able to hold an open studio to give people a chance to view his diminutive creations (via Gothamist).