This September, Bruce Munro’s Field of Light will transform nearly seven acres of Manhattan’s East Side from 38th Street to 41st Street on First Avenue. The installation, which consists of 17,000 solar-powered flower-like fiber optic stems lit up in a rainbow of colors, will be in place for one year. The bulbs are designed to subtly change hues over the course of the day.
Munro, a British Australian artist, is well-known for his expansive light exhibitions, which are usually large scale, immersive, and site specific. His Field of Light series are perhaps his most famous works, but he’s also created pieces like Water Towers (2011)—constructed out of plastic bottles and fiber optics—at Salisbury Cathedral, and CDSea (2010), which consisted of a literal sea of CDs. He’s done other versions of his Field piece, including a bigger version in Paso Robles, but Manhattan’s Field of Light is meant to honor New York City as “a beacon of freedom and home around the world,” according to a press release.
Field of Light is sponsored by the Soloviev Foundation, a charitable arm of Soloviev Group, a developer, which has submitted a proposal to transform the vacant lot into a mixed-use development that it will dub Freedom Plaza. The crowning glory of the property will be a casino, one of three planned for the New York City area—however, the developer is currently vying for a casino license. Earlier in 2023, Soloviev Group revealed its plans to transform the 6.7 acre lot, which will include a human rights museum that will house pieces of the original Berlin Wall, four acres of green space, two residential towers, a 1,200-room hotel, and a subterranean casino.
How to plan your visit to the “Field of Light”
Field of Light will be accessible to the public, though information on how to access the planned display is not available yet. If you’re planning a trip to New York City around this exhibit, the Whitby Hotel and Ritz Carlton NoMad are both located in Midtown. The Whitby Hotel, which has 86 individually designed rooms with floor-to-ceiling windows, is a 25-minute walk from Freedom Plaza. The Ritz Carlton NoMad, known for being one of the coolest and most luxurious stays in Manhattan, has 250 rooms and is a little over a half hour’s walk from the installation.