A new exhibit at Columbus Circle called 'Discover Columbus' lets visitors inside a living room containing the 13-foot-tall statue of the explorer that was originally unveiled in 1892. NY1's Grace Rauh filed the following report.
It is the hottest new apartment in Manhattan. But the up-close-and-personal views of Christopher Columbus will not be available for very long.
"For you and I, this is the first and only chance you are probably going to have in your whole life," said Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Japanese artist Tatzu Nishi is the creative force behind a temporary living room, built around the 120-year-old statue of Columbus that towers over Columbus Circle. Nishi says he is trying to reach people beyond the art world.
"My project is not only for art fans but for everyone," Nishi said.
In the living room, 70 feet above the street, visitors are encouraged to make themselves at home. They can stretch out on a sofa or flip through a magazine.
There are, however, fingerprints from the private donors who contributed to the $2.5 million project. CNN owner Time Warner and Bloomberg LP are among them.
Perhaps most importantly, the piece allows New Yorkers to get a good look at the face and enormous feet of a statue they've likely passed many times on the street.
"I looked at the statue yesterday and I wondered, 'I wonder what he's thinking right now,'" Bloomberg said.
Some Italian-Americans are objecting to the installation, saying it trivializes the man often credited with discovering America. The mayor dismissed any criticism.
"The sculpture was made to be viewed," Bloomberg said.
The exhibit opens to the public on Thursday. Tickets are free but must be reserved online at the Public Art Fund's website or reserved across the street at the Time Warner Center.
For more information, go to http://www.publicartfund.org.