press release

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, First Deputy Mayor Patricia E. Harris and Public Art Fund President Susan K. Freedman announced on January 15th that a major new work of temporary public art by internationally acclaimed artist Olafur Eliasson, The New York City Waterfalls, will be on display in New York City from June 26 to October 13, 2008. Commissioned by the Public Art Fund, the project consists of four monumental, man-made waterfalls installed for three months at four sites along the shores of Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Governors Island: one by the Brooklyn anchorage of the Brooklyn Bridge, one between Piers 4 and 5 in Brooklyn, one in Lower Manhattan at Pier 35, and one on the north shore of Governors Island. The 90 to 120-foot tall installations, which have been designed to protect water quality and aquatic life, will add a striking element to New York City's iconic skyline. The Waterfalls will operate from seven days a week from 7 am to 10 pm, except on Tuesdays and Thursedays when the hours will be 9 am to 10 pm. Starting September 8, 2008, the Waterfalls will operate Mondays and Wednesdays 5:30 pm - 9 pm, and Tuesdays and Thursdays through Sundays, 12:30 pm - 9 pm.

The Economic Development Corporation (EDC) estimates that the Waterfalls, funded with private support raised by the Public Art Fund, will contribute $55 million to the City's economy. The Mayor, Deputy Mayor Harris and Freedman were joined by Eliasson, Department of Cultural Affairs Commissioner Kate D. Levin, NYC & Company CEO George Fertitta, Department of Parks and Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe, Public Art Fund Director Rochelle Steiner, Tishman Construction Corporation Chairman and CEO Daniel Tishman, and many of the project's cultural and environmental partners at today's announcement at the South Street Seaport.

"Public art is a signature of New York City and we are proud to welcome Olafur Eliasson's exciting new project, the Waterfalls," said Mayor Bloomberg. "Not only does public art excite and inspire New Yorkers, it helps draw visitors and adds millions of dollars into our economy. Olafur Eliasson's innovative and monumental project reflects the revitalization of our waterfront throughout the five boroughs, and I thank the Public Art Fund for bringing this unforgettable work to our City while taking steps to protect the environment."

"For 30 years, the Public Art Fund has been bringing artists and New York City together by presenting innovative art projects for all to see," said Freedman. "The New York City Waterfalls takes this tradition to a whole new level and exemplifies the institution's commitment to commissioning artists who stretch the limits of public art and forms it might take."

"The Waterfalls highlights the emphasis that our Administration places on supporting the arts and providing a platform for artists to express themselves," said Deputy Mayor Harris. "We are thrilled that artists like Olafur Eliasson choose our City as their canvas."

Conceived by Eliasson and commissioned by the Public Art Fund, The New York City Waterfalls will showcase New York City's natural environment alongside the City's industrial and commercial landscape. Sited in the historic New York Harbor, which has served as the gateway to America for nearly four centuries and a point of origin for the City's growth, the Waterfalls will introduce a breathtaking element into the heart of New York's waterfront.

"In developing The New York City Waterfalls, I have tried to work with today's complex notion of public spaces," said Eliasson. "The Waterfalls appear in the midst of the dense social, environmental, and political tissue that makes up the heart of New York City. They will give people the possibility to reconsider their relationships to the spectacular surroundings, and I hope to evoke experiences that are both individual and enhance a sense of collectivity."

Born in Copenhagen in 1967, Eliasson is considered one of his generation's most influential artists. Throughout his career, he has taken inspiration from natural elements and phenomena, such as light, wind, fog, and water, to create sculptures and installations that evoke sensory experiences. He is perhaps best known for The weather project (2003) at Tate Modern in London, a giant sun made of 200 yellow lamps, mirrors and mist that transformed the museum's massive Turbine Hall and drew over 2 million visitors during its five-month installation.

"One of Eliasson's great strengths as an artist is his ability to captivate viewers, which he will do by integrating the spectacular beauty of nature into the urban landscape on a dramatic scale," said Steiner, curator of The New York City Waterfalls.

Eliasson's work often involves industrial materials that, when brought together, create dramatic installations that are as beautiful as they are unexpected. The New York City Waterfalls will be constructed using building elements that are ubiquitous throughout New York: scaffolding is the backbone of the structures, and pumps will bring water from the East River to the top; the water then falls from heights of 90 to 120 feet back into the river. Fish and aquatic life are protected by filtering the water through intake pools suspended in the river. To build the Waterfalls, Public Art Fund has partnered with Tishman Construction Corporation and has engaged a team of design, engineering and construction professionals.

The New York City Waterfalls will be visible by land and boat, and because of their proximity to one another, viewers will be able to see multiple waterfalls from various vantage points in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Governors Island. Dedicated boat journeys to view the Waterfalls, organized by the Public Art Fund in partnership with Circle Line Downtown, will leave from Pier 16 in Manhattan and will provide up-close views of the installations. The Circle Line will provide free and discounted trips daily for the public. The free Governors Island Ferry, which will run every Friday, Saturday and Sunday for the length of the project, and the Staten Island Ferry will also provide views of the waterfalls at Governors Island and between Piers 4 and 5 in Brooklyn. Recommended viewing sites and bike routes along the waterfront will be made available on free maps provided on the Waterfalls website,, and distributed throughout the City. The New York City Waterfalls is an example of the Administration's continuing commitment to cultural life and support of public art as a way to highlight the vitality of the City. To maximize Waterfalls-based tourism, NYC & Company is designing a marketing plan to attract visitors from around the world to New York to view the project.

"Being home to extraordinary artists and visionary cultural organizations is central to New York City's identity," said Commissioner Levin. "Together, Olafur Eliasson and the Public Art Fund are helping us reconsider how we perceive familiar spaces, and the Waterfalls offers an opportunity for New Yorkers and visitors alike to explore anew the City's rich natural and cultural landscapes."

The New York City Waterfalls provides an opportunity to highlight and celebrate the dramatic revitalization of the City's waterfront. Over the past six years, the City has launched a number of key initiatives to open the waterfront for public use, including several significant capital projects, such as the creation of the Harbor District and the development of Brooklyn Bridge Park, Governors Island, and the East River Waterfront promenade in Lower Manhattan. In addition, as part of PlaNYC, the City has committed to open 90% of New York City's waterways for recreation by reducing water pollution.

The Waterfalls have been designed to be sensitive to the environment. The structures will not only protect fish, aquatic life, the river and the shoreline, but will also run on "green power"—electricity generated from renewable resources—for its operations. Public Art Fund is working closely with Consolidated Edison, who will provide the green energy for the project through Con Ed Solutions.

"The Waterfalls will help a new generation of New Yorkers discover our great waterfront and encourage us all to become stewards for its continued revitalization and lasting protection," said Riverkeeper President Alex Matthiessen. "The project itself is a model of green design and, importantly, is protective of key aquatic habitat."

"From buildings and transportation to cultural events and art projects, every aspect of our city has the potential to be more sustainable," said Ashok Gupta, air and energy director for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). "Through hard work and dedication, the Public Art Fund and Mayor Bloomberg have launched an environmentally-sustainable public art project that will be the standard for all similar projects moving forward."

Public Art Fund is joining with City and State agencies and environmental organizations to develop resources for young people and adults to enjoy the Waterfalls. Partners include the City's Department of Education and Department of Environmental Protection, and environmental groups including Riverkeeper, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance (MWA), New York Restoration Project (NYRP), and Urban Assembly's New York Harbor School, a public school that engages students through the study of the marine culture, history and environment of New York City and its surrounding waters. Programming will include activities for students and families that examine the waterfront through the topics of art, history, environmental responsibility, aquatic life, ecology, water conservation, and other related subjects. Art and science curriculum based on the Waterfalls will be combined and integrated into classroom lessons during the summer and fall, and will also be available for summer camp groups.


The New York City Waterfalls by Olafur Eliasson is presented by the Public Art Fund, in collaboration with the City of New York. This project is presented in partnership with Tishman Construction Corporation,with assistance from Consolidated Edison, Circle Line Downtown and Weil, Gotshal & Manges, LLP. Major supporters include Bloomberg LP, Agnes Gund and Daniel Shapiro, Carson Family Charitable Trust, CIT, Forest City Ratner Companies, The Charina Endowment Fund, The Silverweed Foundation, Ann Tenenbaum and Thomas H. Lee, and The Wachovia Foundation. Generous support has been provided by Sullivan & Cromwell LLP, Kathy and Richard S. Fuld, Jr., Danielle and David Ganek, Jennifer and Matthew Harris, Jill and Peter Kraus, and Peter Norton Family Foundation, with additional funds from Donald B. Marron Charitable Trust, Elise and Andrew Brownstein, The Jonathan M. Tisch Foundation, Laurie M. Tisch Illuminations Fund, Steve Tisch, Donna and Benjamin M. Rosen, Furthermore: a program of the J.M. Kaplan Fund, and Jeanette Sarkisian Wagner.

About the Artist

Olafur Eliasson was born in Copenhagen in 1967, and grew up in both Iceland and Denmark. He attended the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen and currently divides his time between his family home in Copenhagen and his studio in Berlin. Studio Olafur Eliasson is a laboratory for spatial research that employs a team of 30 architects, engineers, craftsmen, and assistants who work together to conceptualize, test, engineer, and construct installations, sculptures, large-scale projects, and commissions. Recent works reflect Eliasson's increased interest in architecture and the built environment. Since the mid-1990s, he has presented his work in numerous exhibitions and outdoor venues, and his work is currently on view in a major mid-career retrospective at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art through February 24, 2008, which will be expanded at The Museum of Modern Art and PS 1 Contemporary Art Center in New York opening on April 20, 2008.

About the Public Art Fund

Since 1977, the Public Art Fund has worked with over 500 emerging and established artists to produce innovative temporary exhibitions of contemporary art throughout New York City. By bringing artworks outside the traditional context of museums and galleries, Public Art Fund provides a unique platform for an unparalleled public encounter with the art of our time. Current and recent critically acclaimed exhibitions and presentations include Sarah Lucas's Perceval at Doris C. Freedman Plaza at 60th Street and Fifth Avenue (through May 2008); Dara Friedman's Musical at multiple midtown Manhattan locations (2007); Alexander Calder in New York at City Hall Park (2006-7); Sarah Morris's Robert Towne at Lever House (2006-7); Anish Kapoor's Sky Mirror at Rockefeller Center (2006); Sarah Sze's Corner Plot at Doris C. Freedman Plaza (2006); Nancy Rubins's Big Pleasure Point at Lincoln Center (2006); William Kentridge's 9 Drawings for Projection at the Central Park and Prospect Park Bandshells (2005); and Alejandro Diaz's A Can for All Seasons on the Grand Concourse in the Bronx (2005).

Public Art Fund is a non-profit art organization supported by generous contributions from individuals, foundations, and corporations, and with funds from National Endowment for the Arts; New York State Council on the Arts, a State Agency; and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.

Olafur Eliasson. The New York City Waterfalls
Commissioned by the Public Art Fund

Olafur Eliasson

public space:
East River, New York

Public Art Fund, New York