Minimodel maven Eiran Gazit’s latest project is anything but small: The former Israeli soldier and his team are putting the finishing touches on Gulliver’s Gate, a sprawling exhibit of the world made of minimodels set to open on April 4 in a 49,000-square-foot space at 216 West 44th Street in Times Square, reports Crain’s. The $40 million extravaganza represents a decade of dreams and hard work for Gazit, in this case the chief dreamer, plus years of seeking investors, coordinating with dozens of artists around the world and months of installation.
After first falling in love with miniatures in his 30s while in the Netherlands at Madurodam, a miniature park famous for its 25-to-1 scale models of Dutch landmarks, Gazit spent the next few year creating a Mini-Israel in his homeland. The 14-acre outdoor park that opened in 2002 featured replicas of that country’s cities and landmarks.
After moving to Lenox, Mass. to be closer to his wife’s family, Gazit nixed some projects like a Bible-themed miniature park in Nashville and a mini America in Las Vegas–but the Big Apple proved impossible to resist. For Gulliver’s Gate, he found two investors, Irving and Michael Langer of E&M Associates and got to work assembling a team and strategic partners with the range of skills and depth of experience necessary to bring the project to life.
Why Times Square? Says Gazit, “It’s a numbers game.” 60 million visitors came through the city last year. “Not every tourist goes uptown or to Brooklyn, but they all come to Times Square.”
The exhibit will include miniature scale models of well-known sites and places from our world and fictional worlds, “as well as lands that otherwise only exist in our imagination,” connected by train tracks, highways and “all manners of transportation known to mankind from horses and elephants to hot air balloons, jet planes and space shuttles,” including a fully operational airport with planes taxiing, taking off and landing. Visitors can get scanned and have a tiny version of themselves permanently added to the display.
Gulliver’s Gate puts the world in a new perspective. The model New York, built by Brooklyn Model Works, isn’t meant to be a perfect rendering: The tiny Big Apple includes Times Square, the Empire State Building and the Guggenheim in its display of downtown Manhattan, for example. The interactive model is, however, bustling taxicabs, street vendors, shoppers and moving trains, pretty much like the real thing. “This is a magical, happy version of the world. It’s playful,” Gazit said. “We don’t have slums. We don’t have wars. We don’t have catastrophes.”
Previews of Gulliver’s Gate begin April 4. Find out more and buy tickets here.
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