Bigger than the plate


You don’t typically see something like this in the galleries of the Museum of the City of New York—a vast biosphere that’s essentially a live experiment.

It is by artist Mary Mattingly and was developed to counteract sea level rise due to climate change.

“In real life, it’s supposed to swim, it’s supposed to be on the shore, on the shore, grow plants in salt water, salt water,” said Monxo Lopez, Associate Curator, Museum of the City of New York, of the “Food in New York, Bigger as the plate.’

what you need to know

  • Food in New York, Bigger Than the Plate, is a new exhibition at the Museum of the City of New York in East Harlem
  • It shows works by more than 20 contemporary artists and designers
  • It addresses issues of sustainability, resilience, work equity and fair access to food
  • At its heart is a biosphere designed for growing native plants in saltwater to counteract rising sea levels and climate change

It’s an exhibition showcasing the work of more than 20 contemporary artists and designers, all concerned with the future of how New Yorkers get food, grow it and eat it.

It addresses food system issues such as sustainability, resilience, worker equity and equal access to food.

“It’s a fun exhibit because it’s meant to be uplifting and empowering and to invite visitors to become part of the solution rather than just being passive eaters, I mean I love to eat but obviously we need to do more than that if we want to support each other,” Lopez said.

The exhibition is divided into trade, how food is brought into the city, food production in the five boroughs and of course food.

It is inside and outside, the museum is using its north terrace as an exhibition space for the first time.

Outside is a greenhouse made from recycled materials and recycled lobster traps made into furniture.

Inside is a piece that allows visitors to smell the differences between sweet and bitter smells, accompanied by a soundtrack. Also, a custom tricycle turned into a cart for a neighborhood favorite, Shaved Ice, by artist Miguel Luciano.

“It also honors the bike clubs that we see here in the Bronx and in Harlem, it’s a mix, it’s like a centaur, half a piragua wagon and half a bike,” said Lopez, noting that the exhibit is a Combination of pieces from the museum’s extensive collection as well as commissioned works.

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