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Minneapolis, Minnesota

Sidewalk Harp

A whimsical sensor instrument for Minneapolitans to play on their walks to work. 

In any downtown business district you’re likely to find abstract works of futuristic public art, most of which, admittedly, are quite forgettable. But don’t just pass blindly by the 40-foot-long stainless steel wave in front of a nonprofit office—it hides a musical secret.

When pedestrians wave their hands beneath the sculpture’s glowing LED lights, each one produces a distinct musical tone. The “strings” can be “plucked” individually, or “strummed” so they resonate together. The light sensors pulse purple, blue, red, green, and white, producing a unique sound with each different color. 

This is the work of artist Jen Lewin, who is known for her interactive installations. For Lewin, the community is complicit in creating the artwork as they participate in it. Some seek out the sidewalk harp, while others stumble upon it in surprise when their hands accidentally brush the sensors. Either way, the public instrument continues to inspire whimsy in all those who play it. 

Know Before You Go

A short walk from the light rail stop by Target Field, the installation is in front of the Be The Match building.

Contributed by
e ebretzel
Edited by