The Art of the Subway
Public art installations can be found in quiet rural villages and large cities that never sleep. But sometimes, some of the most interesting works of art and design in public spaces are hidden. And, in some cases, they’re underground.Visit Prague Station, above, and you’ll see what we mean. And it’s not the only subway system to boast free public art.
An extensive network that shuttles commuters around the busy city, New York’s subway system is an iconic one. An online subway art guide makes it easy to track down specific works as well as look up which artist helped bring a creative eye to your favorite subway station.
Located in one of the world’s most design conscious cities, it’s no surprise that the Stockholm is a shining example of how taking public transportation can be a beautiful and uplifting experience. Over 90 of the city’s 100 stations feature work by almost 140 different artists, and is often referred to as the “world’s longest art exhibit.” If you don’t have plans to visit the Nordic capital anytime soon, there’s an excellent photography project to document all of Stockholm’s subway stations, which you can check out here.
Opened in 1900, Le Métro in Paris is possibly one of the world’s most famous subway systems. At many of the subway stops, the visual experience begins upon entry, marked with the classic Art Nouveau inspired entryways. Throughout the system there are several notable stops, particularly the stop for the Louvre which makes the traveler feel the subway stop is almost part of the famed museum itself. At the Abesses station in the heart of the Montmartre district, visitors are greeted with colorful murals that cover the walls all the way down a spiral staircase that leads to the underground station. Unfortunately, in recent years, much of the murals have been covered in graffiti.
Younger than other subway systems (it began running in 1972), Munich’s U-Bahn still has a distinct sense of flair and style. The architecture in many of the stations is progressive and certainly pushes the envelope, bringing in bright colors and strong, modern lines. The station at Sankt-Quirin-Platz has a particular draw to it thanks to its combination of natural and urban elements.
Warm colors and a relaxed attitude that are synonymous with the southern part of the European continent are truly reflected in Lisbon’s Metro. Traveling in Portugal’s capital is a feast for the eyes, where all of the city’s metro stops incorporate works of contemporary art. Stations feature a variety of Portugese artists, paying homage to the finest in the country’s creativity and providing a playful space that’s fun to travel in.
Boasting South America’s most extensive and modern metro system – it carries over 2 million people every day – it’s no surprise that Santiago’s subway stations have a compelling look to them. In particular, Estación Simón Bolívar is worth a look, with its LED lit railings and long escalators that look nearly never-ending. The stop for Universidad de Chile features a giant mural that represents the history of the country; other stations offer everything from modern art to landscapes to multimedia installations, providing something to please every eye.
Dubai’s metro only opened in September 2009, but it’s already receiving acclaim. Not only do the trains go incredibly fast – up to 474 miles per hour – but as with most structure in Dubai, the subway’s architecture is extravagant and edgy. Travel along these rails and you’ll almost feel like you’ve arrived somewhere far in the future.
Tokyo‘s Shinjuku Subway Art
Tokyo reflections by cheungvogl
Prague – line a station
Bund sightseeing tunnel
These are only a small collection of the many beautiful subways and subway stations around the world. What are some of your favorites that you find the most inspiring?