Skip to main content
#SummerofFUV Music Guide

NYC Statues Come To Life

Photo Courtesy: Rowan Hornbeck


You can now receive a phone call from Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, Gertrude Stein or other historical figures. The Talking Statues Project has come to New York City, and 35 statues throughout all five boroughs are active. There are plaques by statues like Gertrude Stein in Bryant Park or Frederick Douglass outside the New York Historical Society. All you have to do is scan the code on the plaque with your smartphone, and you'll get a phone call with a recording of an actor playing the historical figure.

The Talking Statues Project was originally launched in Copenhagen by Danish documentary filmmaker David Peter Fox. Fox brought the project to New York in partnership with the New York City Parks Department, The Historical Society, and the Burns Society of the City of New York. 

Jonathan Kuhn is the Director for Art and Antiquities for the Parks Department, and he says the project brings the statues back to life. 

"These are human beings. And yet, once they're placed in sculptures they become symbols to some degree. Symbols that are a little apart. The project returns some of their humanity."

Kuhn hopes the sculptures and recordings will inspire people to learn more about history. He says the diverse representation in the collection of sculptures represents the melting pot that is New York City. Many of the recordings are in the native language of the person represented, as well as in English. Across the city, 20 of the statues speak multiple languages -- including Greek, Italian, Chinese, and German. 

For a full map of where all the talking statues are located, visit New York Talking Statues' website.