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Construction scaffolding -- like yellow cabs -- is ubiquitous in New York City, so it’s easy to shrug off the maze of metal surrounding the soaring 1892 marble monument to Christopher Columbus at the heart of Columbus Circle. But the parade of pedestrians climbing a staircase to the top is a hint that something else is going on. 

The scaffolding is supporting an exhibition by Japanese artist Tatzu Nishi called Discovering Columbus, which is built around the eponymous statue, six stories up. Known for installations that bring a new perspective to landmarks and architectural objects, Nishi has constructed a fully decorated living room in which the 13ft-tall figure of the 15th-century explorer holds centre stage.

After ascending 96 steps, the public gets close up access to the statue, now surrounded by pink-papered walls with a motif of Elvis, hotdogs and other iconic Americana rather than its normal backdrop of skyscrapers and Central Park. Visitors are welcome to make themselves at home — the temporary space sports a couch, chairs, a flat-screen TV and a stocked bookshelf — while contemplating the hulking Columbus.

The exhibition is open from 10 am to 9 pm daily through 18 November. Free timed tickets are required for entry and can either be sourced online or from the ticket desk on the third floor of the Shops at Columbus Center. After the public viewing, the 120-year-old weather-weary statue will undergo a more extensive facelift that is set to complete by the end of the year, at which point the scaffolding will be removed.

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