Earlier this summer, I got my Key to City (or it was bestowed upon me, rather) through a project Creative Time is doing with locks all over the city. I’ve been able to visit a few of them and have one more in Gowanus I might check out this weekend. Above you can see the locked box with a lightswitch in Bryant Park. The switch turned on a lamp located in the middle of some tables. Because I went during the day, the light coming on wasn’t very dramatic, but I really loved all the notes and paper that had been left by previous key holders. I also enjoyed the puzzlement of the people around me as I opened what appeared to be a utility box to reveal what looked like a crowded, secret post office box. While I got a booklet with my key that listed the directions to the locations, there are no signs for the locks when you get there, so I had to just hope that I was trying the right lock.
This was even more challenging at the Brooklyn Museum, where the lock was actually on the wall of a gallery. Once unlocked, a door swung out revealing a secret miniature exhibit, with miniature art pieces. The glass dandelion was especially charming. This also drew many curious people (which is not unusual if you wander into a museum, pull out your house keys, stick them in the wall and open a door to a cabinet of curiosities). My friend Eszter was awesome enough to bestow her key upon an especially enthusiastic and curious woman. I love that this Key to the City art project not just taking me all over the city on a fun scavenger hunt, but that it engages the people around me as well. When else do you talk to the other visitors at an art museum?
One an ambitious day, I went all the way up to St. John the Divine to unlock a gate to the Baptistery. Any excuse to go up to the beautiful Gothic church is always welcome. There turned to be another way into the Baptistery, but it was still fun to unlock the towering cathedral gate.
Like all the Key to the City locations I’ve visited, this one also made me look at the spaces of New York in a new way, to really interact with them. Yes, I could always go in to the Baptistery, but did I? It turned my focus from the heaven-reaching height of the cathedral to this beautiful and quiet chapel near the altar.