Times Square morphed into an outdoor art gallery Monday to celebrate the launch of the inaugural Art Everywhere US campaign.

Instead of advertisements, tourists excitedly posed in front of giant reproductions of some of America's most iconic artworks, including Gilbert Stuart's famous portrait of George Washington and photography by New York artist Robert Mapplethorpe.

Richard Reed, the brainchild behind the concept and founder of Art Everywhere UK (now in its second year), came up with the idea when his mood was lifted by a random painting posted on a wall on the dreary London street he commutes through. The moment inspired the Art Everywhere project, the vision of which Reed says is "To flood our streets with art; to loosen up our cities. To create moments of beauty and reflection amongst our daily commutes and trips to the shops".

All of the original artworks, which can be seen across the city through the end of the month, are found at one of the five museums collaborating in the venture -- The Art Institute of Chicago, The Dallas Museum of Art, The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C., and NYC's Whitney Museum of American Art.

Douglas Druick, Director of the Art Institute of Chicago, is excited for people less acquainted with the works to ponder them and go on to visit museums to experience "the magic of the originals".

As well as an interactive map on the Art Everywhere website, people can use the smartphone app "Blippar" to scan an artwork they come across for additional information on the artwork, its history and in some cases, audio-visual explanations.

Art Everywhere US will run until August 31st. For a checklist of the artworks, specific artwork locations, and additional information, check the Art Everywhere US website: arteverywhereus.org.