Morningside Lights returns with The Open Book, a celebration of the free exchange of ideas and an homage to the libraries that preserve access to knowledge and affirm our freedom to read. Presented in partnership with the Columbia University Libraries and The New York Public Library, each of the 50+ community-built lanterns will pay tribute to a book that inspires, enlightens, and shapes how we see the world.
- Workshop registration opens on September 6th.
Join this annual event after dusk on September 30 to witness a luminous catalogue of “Great Books” where each glowing volume will honor a unique perspective, while renewing our collective resolve to keep our libraries free and our minds open.
Be a part of creating the magic of Morningside Lights by participating in a free lantern building workshop in the week leading up to the procession.
Morningside Lights is led by the directors of Processional Arts Workshop, Alex Kahn and Sophia Michahelles, and produced by Columbia University’s Arts Initiative and Miller Theatre.
– Alex Kahn and Sophia Michahelles, Processional Arts Workshop
Morningside Lights has often been a place where the collective exploration of texts come to life as mobile works of collaborative art. Over the past 12 years, our community-built procession of lanterns has illuminated and interpreted works by Homer, Shakespeare, Langston Hughes, and Pulitzer-honored poets. This year, we are asking our community of makers to share the works that they value most—the books that have inspired them, enlightened them, or shaped how they see the world. The Open Book is a celebration of the free exchange of ideas and an homage to the libraries that preserve access to knowledge and affirm our freedom to read. Partnering with the Columbia University Libraries and The New York Public Library, Morningside Lights will create an illuminated catalogue of “Great Books,” empowering workshop participants to design original covers and pop-up illustrations of their chosen texts, transformed into lanterns. As we circulate through Morningside Park with our luminous library, each glowing volume of The Open Book will honor a unique perspective, while renewing our collective resolve to keep our libraries free and our minds open.
Morningside Lights is an annual outdoor procession featuring lanterns built by volunteers from Columbia University and surrounding neighborhoods during a week of free public workshops. Students, families, and members of the community are all welcome to attend the workshops and procession. Each year’s theme is conceived and directed by Alex Kahn and Sophia Michahelles of Processional Arts Workshop.
Morningside Lights was created in 2012 by Brenna St. George Jones, Alex Kahn, Sophia Michahelles, and Melissa Smey as a way to connect Columbia’s campus and the neighborhood, to foster creativity, and to (quite literally) shine a light on Morningside Park. The first year, we hoped to attract 75 volunteers to help create and carry 25 large lanterns. It was amazing to see the outpouring of community support with over 600 participants that first year.
With special thanks to the Friends of Morningside Park, especially Brad Taylor and Aissatou Bey-Grecia, whose thoughtful partnership and support has enabled this beloved tradition to thrive for over a decade.
A co-production of Columbia University’s Arts Initiative and Miller Theatre, Morningside Lights is led by Melissa Smey, Executive Producer; Taylor Riccio, Senior Producer; Taylor Crichton, Associate Producer; and Garrett Rollins, Associate Producer.
The Morningside Lights procession begins in Morningside Park at 116th Street and Morningside Avenue at 8PM. Meet at the start to walk in the procession, or join in anywhere along the route. The route is approximately one mile in length, and arrives on the Columbia campus around 8:45PM.
If you wish to carry a lantern, arrive at 7PM for rehearsal at 120th Street and Morningside Avenue. The artists encourage you to wear blues, black, and/or white to best reflect the blue glow of the lanterns.
For those bringing a Nano-Lantern, join us at the lantern staging area at 120th and Morningside Avenue starting at 7PM and we’ll provide you with a light source and a bamboo stick to make your hanging lantern glow.
Lanterns are assigned first-come, first-served beginning at 7PM sharp.
Morningside Lights will take place on Saturday, September 30, 2023 at 8pm. Workshop Registration opens on September 6th. This is a Free Event.
While you wait…
Setting the Stage for Climate Change is a temporary public art installation in Morningside Park, sited on a landing near the top of the staircase at 116th Street. Environmental artist Susan Stair designed the sculpture to reinvent the area of the park as an amphitheater for arts and cultural programming. The installation will be on View August 25, 2023 to August 8, 2024.
And currently on view in Morningside Park, ‘Pond Blossoms’ by elizabeth Knowles and ‘Watching Over You’ by Simon Rigg on view through October, 2023.
Follow Friends of Morningside Park here.