Statues in New York are talking, but what are they saying?

Talking Statues is an original Danish project that started in Copenhagen, giving voices to the statues through modern technology for the first time in the world. It became a huge success and later was realised in the cities of Helsinki, London, San Diego, Berlin, Chicago and other places. On the 14th of November the project will start in New York.

The historical statues will tell us the story about New York.  One of the main statues talking will be Columbus, who will be talking in both Manhattan, Queens and Bronx. New York City's history began with the first European visitor Giovanni da Verrazzano in 1524. The statue of Giovanni at the Battery will tell about his arrival to New York Bay, where he will reflect on the voyage and on his life as one of the statues in New York.  Later the Dutch, Peter Stuyvesant, took over. Stuyvesant served as the last Dutch Director General of the colony of New Netherland. He will tell his story and what life was like until 1664, when four English ships bearing 450 men came to New York. The statue of Richard Nicholls will tell about how England took over the Dutch colony on 30th of August 1664, and how they chose later to rename it to New York. 

In the coming New York Public Art Project statues will start talking in all 5 boroughs telling their stories to bypassers through their smartphones. The 30 selected statues will represent the differences of cultures through New York all telling their stories of how they have become a part of the City. The statues have been carefully selected by The NYC Department of Parks & Recreation, Division of Art & Antiquities with us, ranging from Miguel de Cervantes, Golda Meir, Gandhi, Hans Christian Andersen to Balto in Central Park. 

It is important for us to make a project that becomes a natural part of the city's DNA – meaning that the Talking Statues will always relate to New York in what they say. In the project we want to emphasize the uniqueness of different cultures, that shaped New York City. Therefore each statue will represent not only New York but also a Nationality based in the City. There are 800 different languages spoken in New York, making it the most linguistically diverse city in the world. 

Talking Statues in New York

The statues will talk not only about New York, but they will also help to provide an experience of the different cultures that New York is a composition of. This will be accomplished not only through what they say, but also through the language they speak. Statues, besides English and Spanish, will speak Dutch, Swedish, Danish, Italian, German, etc. This means the statue of Athena in Athens Park in Queens will speak both American and Greek, Mahatma Ghandi in Union Square will speak Indian and American, Beethoven will speak German and American, Confucius in Chinatown will speak American and Chinese etc. 

We have chosen the statues for the project from 3 different angles – first of all, there will be historical statues telling us the story of New York City, how the city started and how the statues became a part of it. Secondly, we have chosen the statues erected by immigrants in memory of their culture. And then the project will have statues of famous artists, who have become an important part of New York City. 

David’s background is one reason he wanted to bring Talking Statues to New York. His grandmother Bertha Fox came to the U.S. in 1922 from the Ukraine. Her autobiography is part of the book My Future is in America (New York University Press, 2006). She lived in the Bronx, where she raised two children. Now her grandchildren are residents of New York City with their own unique stories.

Theme: Diversity and immigration

David Peter Fox

Talking Statues started in Copenhagen in 2013 by documentary filmmaker David Peter Fox. While taking his children through the King’s Garden, Fox was fascinated by the stories behind the statues, and he tried to think of a way to best communicate this to the public. His original idea was to make small films about each statue but then decided the statues should tell their own stories. In September 2013 Talking Statues debuted its first talking statue of fairytale writer Hans Christian Andersen in Copenhagen’s King’s Garden. It was a huge success, and the project expanded to cities such as Helsinki, London, San Diego, Berlin, and Chicago.

  • H. C. Andersen (Danish)2:03
  • H. C. Andersen (Danish)2:03

Statues in New York are talking, but what are they saying?

  • Hans Christian Andersen2:01

First Talking Statue project 2013

New York Talking Statues Team

David Peter Fox -  Originator & Producer

David M. Fox - NYC Consultant

Stuart Lynch - Monologue Consultant

Karen Kapoor - Production Assistant

Mia Johanna Selin - Design

Jakob Højgård - Programming

The project produced by
Nonprofit Association of December 1st. 

Association of December 1st (Frivillig forening)

Islands Brygge 3

2300 Copenhagen S

Talking Statues New York

838 West End Ave., 8-C
New York, NY 10025


In the middle of Copenhagen in Denmark you find King´s Garden, where the statue of Hans Christian Andersen is placed. He was the frist talking statue in the world and started talking in public in September 2013

Many of the statues we have chosen are artists. New York’s small Spanish colony first proposed to raise money to donate to the city a statue of Miguel de Cervantes at the end of nineteenth century, at the time of the Spanish–American War, but the monument was never built. In 1986, Enrique Tierno Galván, Mayor of Madrid, the capital of Spain, ordered three replicas to be made of the 1835 sculpture of Cervantes created by Antonio Solá, the director of the Spanish Academy at Rome, often considered to be Spain’s last great neoclassical sculptor. The original statue of Cervantes is located now at the Palacio de las Cortes in Madrid.