New York Art and Architecture To See Before the New Year

From counting sheep on the billboards in Times Square to visiting the delightfully decorated Origami Holiday Tree at one of the city’s finest museums, we round up the best art and architecture experiences this holiday season.

There are plenty of ways to enjoy the holidays in the city, but when it comes to art, there is no shortage of incredible experiences you can have just by simply walking outside (if you can brave the winter cold). If you’re looking for New York’s best art and architecture that will inspire a sense of wonderment this holiday season, here’s our guide to some of the most magnificent events and striking structures in New York City.

Witness Counting Sheep by Tal Yarden in Times Square: Organized by Times Square Arts and the Times Square Advertising Coalition, Counting Sheep is a visual lullaby by Brooklyn artist Tal Yarden that plays on the electronic billboards in the famous intersection every night in December from 11:57 p.m. until midnight. It follows the Meike brothers, octogenarian sheep ranchers, as they herd their flocks in the wide-open expanses of Wyoming. Originally shot as the backdrop for an opera production of Brokeback Mountain in Madrid, the film is the manifestation of the classic notion of “counting sheep” to lull an audience into slumber—if such a thing is even possible amidst all the bright lights of the big city.

11:57 p.m. – 12 a.m. every night in December

Ka-Man Tse for @TSqArts

Go see the buildings named the best architecture of 2016 by the New York Times: The best thing about the great buildings of New York is that you don’t have to pay a fee to go see them. In this month’s New York Times, critic Michael Kimmelman named the city’s best architecture of 2016, from restorations to new state-of-the-art behemoths. One of the buildings he praised was the “Pyramid on the Hudson,” a 32-story apartment complex on 58th Street and 12th Avenue that was designed by Danish wunderkind Bjarke Ingels. The building resembles a futuristic pyramid, but is, in fact, not a pyramid at all; the tower is a hyperbolic paraboloid structured to offer maximum riverfront views from within its 709 apartments. If you get the chance to go uptown, make sure to take a look at the two new buildings on Columbia University’s campus that Kimmelman also singled out. The Jerome L. Greene Science Center on 125th Street and Broadway is a translucent glass-and-steel building designed by Renzo Piano. The Roy and Diana Vagelos Education Center was devised by Diller Scofidio & Renfro and closely resembles the lobby of a stretched out opera house.

Visit the Christmas tree and Neapolitan Baroque Crèche at the Met: Housed in the medieval galleries right off the main lobby, the annual Christmas installation was donated by the late Loretta Hines Howard, an artist and collector of Neapolitan religious figures, who first started acquiring crèche figures in 1925. Her collection was first shown to the public at the Met in 1957; it remains much the same today, assembled every year by her daughter and granddaughter for the holidays. The Museum’s spectacular tree is adorned with cherubs and around 50 suspended angels. Displayed beneath is the nativity scene, which features figures made by famous 17th century artisans. Look closely at the figure’s costumes, which feature jewels, filigree baskets, and gilded daggers, among other marvels.

Then, walk across the park to see the Origami Holiday Tree at the American Museum of Natural History: If you fell in love with the crèche at the Met, walk across the park to visit the Origami Holiday Tree at the American Museum of Natural History. Produced in partnership with OrigamiUSA, the 13-foot tree features over 800 paper figures folded by origami artists worldwide. The theme of this year’s tree is Origami Dinosaurs Among Us, which celebrates the museum’s current exhibitions, Dinosaurs Among Us and Crocs: Ancient Predators in a Modern World, both of which are open through January 2, 2017.

Courtesy of the American Museum of Natural History

Shop for last minute gifts at the Cooper Hewitt Design Museum: Located in industrialist Andrew Carnegie’s former mansion on 91st Street and Fifth Avenue, the Cooper Hewitt Design Museum recently underwent a renovation that modernized the café and added digital enhancements to the galleries. Not only is the museum a beautiful place to see an exhibition (currently showing By the People: Designing a Better America, an exhibition of 60 collaborative designs), it’s also a great place to buy creative last minute gifts from its curated holiday guide. Buy anything from a Luisa Cevese Wallet ($40) to a Lomo’Instant Camera ($110).