While LACMA’s plans to build a massive Jeff Koons sculpture of a train outside the museum seem to be running out of steam, the Friends of the High Line in New York have thrown another possible wrench into the works: They announced their desire to build the same unrealized sculpture by Koons in their popular city park, which overlooks Chelsea and neighboring areas in Manhattan where an elevated railway once ran.
“I think the train connection is really powerful for us,” said Robert Hammond, co-founder of Friends of the High Line, which is known for integrating art, though usually temporary, into the elevated park.
As a permanent attraction, the Koons sculpture “could point to the city’s industrial history and how freight trains used to run here,” he said, adding that one proposed site is the rail yards between 30th and 34th streets, near the West Side Highway.
The sculpture, which the Los Angeles County Museum of Art unveiled to the public with dramatic renderings five years ago, consists of a realistic-looking 70-foot replica of a 1943 Baldwin 2900 steam locomotive hanging from a real 160-foot crane. The train is meant to look and sound authentic, with wheels chugging and steam releasing on occasion. The project was estimated to cost at least $25 million, though several people close to the project say that actual costs could run much higher.