When Lemuel Gulliver, a surgeon and sea captain, sets out to visit remote regions of the world, the first spot he lands at is the island of Lilliput, where the inhabitants are merely six inches tall. The fictitious island from Jonathan Swift’s 1726 novel, Gulliver’s Travels, may have been brought to life in New York City, albeit here, the entire world is in miniature. Titled “Gulliver’s Gate”, the latest exhibit at Times Square features landmark cities and monuments from various continents, with a huge portion dedicated to Asia. The permanent exhibit has been visualised and created by more than 100 artists from across the world.
A full city block wide (approx 50,000-square-feet) showcase comprises interactive miniature models, created to scale at roughly 1/90 of the original. The display spans four rooms and is lit up by thousands of mini LED lightbulbs. The Asia section — which starts with the Taj Mahal, also includes the Forbidden City in Beijing, Angkor Wat in Cambodia, Malaysia’s Petronas Twin Towers and Mount Fuji in Japan.
“Comprising almost half the exhibition space, the Asia exhibits were built in Beijing, and took 29 artists and 178 days to create it,” says Eiran Gazit, Founder and CEO, Gulliver’s Gate, adding that they have received many visitors from south Asia, specially India, ever since the exhibit was thrown open to public a few months ago. Gazit says, “Currently the Taj Mahal is the only Indian landmark, but we will be evolving our exhibit to include additional landmarks from India and around the world.”
Gazit says that the idea for the permanent showcase grew out of his earlier project, “Mini-Israel”, a 14-acre park with models of Israeli sites. He — along with co-founder Michael Langer — decided to bring an even larger project to New York, and the mammoth display took four years to come together. On the selection of cities to be highlighted, Gazit says they relied on local teams from each region to decide what scenes and landmarks should be represented.
For instance, the United Kingdom section has the Buckingham Palace, Tower Bridge and a movie theatre where a group of penguins are watching Happy Feet. In the New York model, the One World Trade Center, Rockefeller Center, High Line and Empire State Building come alive. An evening chaos with people scrambling to catch the subway add a generous dose of realism to the display. Similar to the actual world, the world of small also has cars, trains, buildings and people — even the homeless.
Gavit is now planning to expand the showcase to other locations around the world; in India, Mumbai and New Delhi are already under consideration.
It’s a small world. Some times, literally.