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Artist to Surround Columbus Circle Statue With 'Living Room'

COLUMBUS CIRCLE — A public art project will give viewers an up close and personal look at the Christopher Columbus statue in Columbus Circle this fall.

Usually people have to crane their necks to get a good view of the 1892 Columbus statue, which is perched on a pedestal 70 feet in the air, but Japanese artist Tatzu Nishi's project will literally put viewers in the same room with the famed explorer.

Nishi, who has made a career of putting famed monuments in domestic settings, will build a living room, with four walls, windows and a ceiling, surrounding the Columbus statue six stories above the street.

"Tatzu felt it was time to give Columbus an apartment of his own, with Central Park views, and to throw an open house to which all of New York City is invited," Public Art Fund Director and Chief Curator Nicholas Baume said in a statement.

In 2011, Nishi constructed a mini hotel around Singapore's Merlion monument; he made a similar structure in 2002 around a statue of Queen Victoria in Liverpool, England.

Baume added that when Tatzu made his first visit to New York City, "he became fascinated with the (Columbus) statue. He realized that despite its central location the Columbus statue is barely visible, a solitary figure hiding in plain sight atop a column some 70 feet in the air."

Viewers will walk up six flights of stairs or take an elevator to enter the living room, which will sit atop a scaffolding. Once there, the public will be able to get an intimate look at the 13-foot Columbus statue while also getting views of Central Park and Midtown from the room's large windows.

The living room will be outfitted with a couch, TV, lamps, and coffee table. The walls will be decorated with wallpaper designed by Nishi depicting images of American culture.

The Columbus Circle installation will be on view from Sept. 20 through Nov. 18.