Honey, They Shrunk The World: NYC Exhibition Lets You Tour A Tiny Globe
New York's Time Square is known to many as the crossroads of the world — and now a new tourist attraction displays much of it under one roof. Gulliver's Gate is a miniature, for-profit exhibition populated by tiny people and the equally small things that exist in their world.
The exhibition is made up of miniature models that represent places in Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas. Similar to real-life, there are moving cars, trains, planes and boats — but every model has its own quirks. In the United Kingdom, there are wee versions of Buckingham Palace, the Tower Bridge and a movie theater filled with penguins watching Happy Feet. In New York City, a tiny Spider-Man climbs the Brooklyn Bridge. The New York display was made by Brooklyn model makers who couldn't resist etching images of themselves onto the front of the New York Stock Exchange.
According to Gulliver's Gate CEO Eiran Gazit, the rest of the models were made abroad. "We said, 'Let's build every area that is displayed in that area.' So Europe from the view of a European, Russia from the view of a Russian, South America or Latin America from the view of an Argentinian."
Model makers on different continents also used different technologies. Argentina's Iguazu Falls were re-created with real water, and so was the Panama Canal, which has working locks. Danish technology controls some of the mini-vehicles that pass through streets and countrysides.
The 50,000-square-foot exhibition spans four rooms and is lit up by thousands of LED lightbulbs controlled by a similar system to what's used on Broadway. The models sit on platforms 3 to 4 feet off the ground, accompanied by low-to-the-floor benches for younger visitors to stand on for a better view.
Matthew Coté, the exhibition's chief technology officer, says, "In places, we want them to see the computers that live under the tables, we want them to see the blinking lights, because that's part of the fun. That's part of what makes nerds like me go, 'Wow, how did they do that?' "
For a few extra dollars, visitors can step into a 3-D scanner and print out tiny plastic replicas of themselves to place in the exhibition. Like the bigger world, Gulliver's Gate shows people from all walks of life, including homeless people.
Artistic director Tim Gilman-Sevcik says he wants to show urban life as it really is. "You get to see this kind of juxtaposition that we have here of somebody being loaded onto an ambulance, and then on the rooftop just overhead there's a party going on. So it's showing that the city has innumerable stories running in parallel all the time."
But it wasn't necessarily the stories that got 12-year-old Nicholas Kawasaki jazzed. "Under the British Isles, there's the Yellow Submarine," he says. "Oh man, this place is awesome."
Sydnee Monday and Nicole Cohen adapted this story for the Web.
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