The verdict is in: New Yorkers are clamoring for some photo-friendly light in their life. Herds of visitors are set to flood the ambitious light display that is opening in the field next to the UN building in December.
Within 24 hours after the opening date of the “Field of Light” art installation was announced, over 20,000 guests had reserved tickets. Though the free art installation is set to open in time for the holidays on Dec. 15, the website to book a tour of the display is now reserved through February.
“We’re getting so much interest, we may have to increase the days that the exhibit is open,” said Michael Hershman, CEO of Soloviev Group, whose charitable arm is funding the installation. “We’ll play that by ear as we go along.”
The art piece on an undeveloped plot stretching from 38th to 41st Street east of First Avenue in Manhattan will offer an immersive walk through of 17,000 globed fiber-optic stemmed spheres. Soloviev Group, the developer that is proposing an extensive casino district dubbed Freedom Plaza on the site commissioned the artist Bruce Munro to create the installation on the 7-acre location.
New Yorkers will have to book a time slot to stroll the park during its open hours in the evenings from Thursday to Saturday for the winter season.
Hershman said that the Soloviev Foundation has so far spent over $3 million on the llight display as a charitable donation to the city. The group’s mission statement describes supporting humanitarian, environmental and educational causes, and Hershamn added that it has a history of “socially responsible” art projects.
“I see this as a kind of continuation of our socially responsible efforts to give back to the community,” he told amNew York Metro.
The installation has become an extension of Soloviev’s proposal to build a casino on the site. The firm announced in early 2023 that it had partnered with the Mohegan gaming group in its bid to win one of the state’s recent casino licenses and build out an entertainment district on the land encompassing the “Field of Light.” It would center on a casino but also include a hotel, two residential towers, green space, a performance venue, a huge Ferris wheel and a museum dedicated to democracy.
Hershman said that the Soloviev foundation had begun plans for an outdoor art exhibit on the site before New York state announced that it was going to grant three downstate casino licenses, but it has included the light installation in its permanent plans for the space. Freedom Plaza would feature a 4.7-acre park that would integrate some reconstructed version of the light show.
“It will knock you off your feet. It’s like entering a wonderland of lights. It’s hard to describe just how dramatic it is, but I will tell you this, it’s caught the imagination of New York City,” he said.
Hershman said that applicants for the casino licenses, including Soloviev, are in the process of submitting questions to the state about their plans, but he expects that applications should be finalized sometime early next year.