The Light Field at Freedom Plaza

A view of Light Field at Freedom Plaza. Photo by Valérie Blanchard
A view of Light Field at Freedom Plaza. Photo by Valérie Blanchard

The Light Field at Freedom Plaza was serene, peaceful, surreal, and very cool. These adjectives are different from the usual descriptors for viewing festive lights in NYC in December. Have you tried to walk through Rockefeller Center or Times Square on a weekend night in December?

Heading east to leave the hustle and bustle of midtown, we walked to Freedom Plaza (First Avenue between East 38th and 41st streets) and discovered peace. Drawn to the light, we peered through the fence in awe of the effervescent lightscape before us, anxious to join the peripatetic denizens gliding through the field.


A view of Light Field at Freedom Plaza. Photo by Valérie Blanchard

A view of Light Field at Freedom Plaza. Photo by Valérie Blanchard

Bruce Munro, the English-Australian artist behind this fantastic, glorious display, is known for his large, immersive, light-based installations worldwide. According to a posting at the site, Mr. Munro hoped that this artistic display illuminating more than six acres would be “experienced as a city-sized window box of light and hope.”

Looking south at Light Field at Freedom Plaza. Photo by Valérie Blanchard

Looking south at Light Field at Freedom Plaza. Photo by Valérie Blanchard

Munro crafted a gentle pageantry of glowing synesthesia enveloped by buildings on three sides and open to the expansive view of the East River. Walking calmly through this window box of light and hope, one imagined a beautiful garden with tall flowers reaching upwards to the clear sky. At the same time, one sensed a serenity gleaned from a cambric of fond memories cradled in this dreamy, sumptuous chiaroscuro celebrating those who have gone before us.

The greeters and other staff at The Light Field were complaisant, welcoming, and cheerful. Someone quipped that these friendly greeters couldn’t possibly be from New York or New Jersey—that they had been bussed in from at least 500 miles away! How silly, I thought, I always try to be considerate of others as I navigate the streets and dodge cars and bikes from all directions.

A view of Light Field at Freedom Plaza._2784 Photo by Valérie Blanchard

A view of Light Field at Freedom Plaza._2784 Photo by Valérie Blanchard

Although the free tickets were already booked up or many weeks ahead, we and many others without tickets were permitted to tour the site after a brief wait, space permitting. We smiled as we entered and were embraced by graceful, glittering beauty and invention in a space that hitherto had been a muddy, barren landscape. This garden of light and hope reminded us how fortunate we are to live in the nonpareil New York City.

Freedom Plaza Inspiration Statement. Photo by Valérie Blanchard

Freedom Plaza Inspiration Statement. Photo by Valérie Blanchard




This display, funded by The Soloviev Foundation, shall light the east side of Murray Hill for 12 months and is accessible to the public. For more information, visit https://fieldoflightnyc.com

Light Field, The Art of Bruce Munro at Freedom Plaza
First Avenue between East 38th and 41st Streets
In the Murray Hill neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City

Readers may also enjoy our reviews of the Mount Vernon Hotel and MuseumTea Around TownKurant Wine Bar, and  Balthazar

The Light Field at Freedom Plaza

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Benjamin
Benjamin
December 19, 2023 5:58 pm

We went here on vacation. Sad and underwhelming. Lots of stakes in what could have been a pretty grassy spot and wires everywhere. Looks like a big bald pin cushion.

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