[NEWS] Maya Lin Installs a ‘Ghost Forest’ in the Middle of Manhattan

September 2, 2021

Maya Lin, ​Ghost Forest​, 2021. Courtesy PACE GALLERY

Maya Lin just planted 49 dying cedar trees in Midtown Manhattan’s Madison Square Park to created a haunting ‘Ghost Forest’ that brings the reality of climate change to our own back yard. The artwork in on view through November 14, 2021. 

“Ghost Forest” is named for the real phenomenon of dead and dying forests that results from climate change events – often from beetle infestations due to warmer temperatures or saltwater inundation from rising sea levels.


These 49 Atlantic white cedars are from the Pine Barrens in New Jersey, which is suffering from environmental problems caused by climate change. Victims of saltwater infiltration, the trees were salted for removal in an effort to regenerated and replant the area. Foresters were working with the local landowner to clear this dying grove as part of a forestry practice that will allow for the regeneration of the trees, since cedars need open light to repopulate. The artist is “borrowing” these trees for six months installation. 

​Ghost Forest is set against living trees and buildings. Photo by Maya Lin Studio

The installation will run for six months, during which time the park will visibly change with the seasons, while the dead cedars will turn even more spectral as they decay. One of the oddest experiences when visiting “Ghost Forest” is the clash of buzzing life and laughter that weaves between the solemn trees. Lin incorporated lush green grass between the trees to invite visitors to sit and stay. The leafless trees are also meant to contrast with the ever-changing thriving trees in the rest of the park, Lin said, “I wanted Ghost Forest’s skeletal forms will invite passerby to confront the reality of the strain put on ecosystems by climate change.”


Lin and the Conservancy are also holding a programme of public events with a focus on nature-based solutions to climate change including lectures by leading specialists in the field. If you’re in New York, I would like you to visit ‘Ghost Forest' and have various experiences.


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