Elmgreen & Dragset’s The Hive At New Moynihan Train Hall

The Hive at moynihan train hall

The new and beautifully designed Moynihan Train Hall is home to The Hive, one of three permanent art installations in Penn Station’s expansive new 92-foot-high skylit concourse. Commissioned for the Moynihan Train Hall, the ceiling suspended sculpture by Scandinavian-born art duo Elmgreen & Dragset is sure to cause a few stiff necks.

Elmgreen & Dragset The Hive

the hive at Moynihan train hall

There are 3 permanent large scale art installations in the newly opened Moynihan Train Hall. The other two commissions are equally compelling and each worthy of their own posts. The three site-specific artworks reflect on notions of past (by Stan Douglas), present (by Kehinde Wiley), and future (by Elmgreen & Dragstreet); each piece demonstrating the artist’s ingenuity and vision.

The Hive at Moynihan Train Hall's 31st Street entrance
The Hive at Moynihan Train Hall’s 31st Street entrance

The Hive, the piece representing the future, is depicted by 100 LED-illuminated city buildings hanging from the ceiling like stalactites. Spanning over 45′ by 22′ with buildings reaching as tall as 12′, it’s made of stainless steel, aluminum, polycarbonate and lacquer.

the hive andrew moore ny times
The Hive, Elmgreen & Dragset, 2020, ph: Andrew Moore/ New York Times

The Hive is Michael Elmgreen’s and Ingar Dragset’s first permanent public sculpture in New York and was commissioned, as were the other two pieces, by Empire State Development in partnership with Public Art Fund. It can be found on the ceiling of the 31st Street entrance, illuminated by both the natural light and the LED lights within.

the hive installation detail
The Hive (detail), Elmgreen & Dragset, 2020, ph: Andrew Moore/ New York Times
The Hive 31st street entrance hall
The Hive, Elmgreen & Dragset, 2020 ph: Andrew Moore/New York Times

The Hive, 2020
Stainless steel, aluminum, polycarbonate, LED lights, and lacquer
45’ 5” L x 22’ 5” W x 12’ D

The Hive in full by Elmgreen and dragset

The Hive in full by Elmgreen and dragset

The following text is from Public Art Fund:
The Hive is a 1:100 scaled architectural model that offers a surreal and fantastical vision of a global metropolis. Dozens of illuminated high-rise buildings descend toward visitors, their downturned orientation inviting new and varied perspectives as visitors move around the space. Artist duo Elmgreen & Dragset has combined miniaturized skyscrapers of their own invention with iconic high-rise buildings from megacities around the world, distilling these towers into their most essential forms. This fictional city combines landmarks from Chicago, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, London, and Paris as well as iconic New York City silhouettes.

The Hive Elmgreen dragset

Titling the work The Hive, the artists suggest a link between natural and human-built structures, like the complex and evolving architecture of a beehive. They have also compared the ceiling-mounted buildings to luminous stalactites that pay tribute to the highly developed cities we live in today while reminding us of our cave-dweller origins. Familiar yet foreign, this uncanny, hybridized representation of an urban center highlights the globalization of architectural design and evokes the influence and interconnectedness of the world’s great cities. Like an inverted reflection of the cityscape just beyond the Train Hall doors, The Hive expresses the quintessential idea of New York City as a melting pot where cultures, nationalities, and ethnicities coexist to become greater than the sum of their parts.

The Hive detail ElmgreenDragset

The Hive allows us a surprising perceptual and spatial relationship to a familiar view, the city skyline. The looming stature of the inverted skyscrapers is at once overpowering and enthralling. It evokes the magnetic draw of cities and the continual urbanization of our world. With buildings up to 9’ tall and integrating over .8 miles (1.3km) of LED strip, this is one of their most technically complex installations.

Photos by Nicholas Knight, courtesy Empire State Development and Public Art Fund, NY unless otherwise noted.

Elmgreen & Dragset gratefully acknowledge their studio (Niklas Schumacher, Margo Lauras, Moritz Pitrowski, Rhiannon Thayer, Darius Am Wasser, Phoebe Emerson, Leona Tobien, Sasha Mballa-Ekobena) as well as Steelworks, Studio Barthelmes, UAP, Torsilieri, and Craft Engineering.

Elmgreen & Dragset