New York has been considered from any number of perspectives over the years, but it’s safe to say that not much attention has been paid to how a tomato might view the city – until now. 

The Ketchup Pool room at the Tomatoland popup - tomatoes swimming in a kitchen sink
The Tomatoland pop-up includes a Ketchup Pool room, with a kitchen sink that serves as the tomatoes' swimming hole. Image © Tomatoland

Beginning 19 October, a fantasy-laden interactive exhibit called Tomatoland is popping up downtown, with attractions like the Ketchup Pool, the Refrigerator World, the Noodle Swing, and the Burger Stop. Its aim? Drawing attention to the thriving metropolis’s environmental concerns.  

Paper Towel Tunnel.jpg
Via installations like the Paper Towel Tunnel, the experience lets guests see New York City from a tomato’s point of view. Image © Tomatoland

Yes, really. The immersive Soho experience imagines a New York City as seen through the eyes of a character named Dr. Tomato, a Manhattan transplant from the Galápagos Islands who’s dismayed by the city’s propensity for overwrought packaging and single-use plastics. Through seven rooms with more than 20 interactive scenes, the 4000-square-foot dream world looks to drive home the many ways in which humanity is ruining the planet – in hallucinatory, full-color fashion. 

The Burger Stop at the Tomatoland popup, where visitors can squeeze themselves into a burger, just like a tomato
At the Burger Stop, visitors can squeeze themselves into the fast-food favorite, just like a tomato. Image © Tomatoland

Take that Ketchup Pool, for instance. It’s filled with water that pours in from a plastic bottle, highlighting both the need for conservation and society’s over-reliance on non-renewable materials, and the swimming hole – aka the kitchen sink – comes complete with a bottle-cap car, so people can wade in and witness the problem firsthand. And over in Bread Paradise, a Truman Show–inspired room that reckons with the concept of infinity, visitors are nudged to consider a future in which paradise is lost, descending via bread-shaped stairs to arrive at a surreal door that claims to lead to the promised land. 

Tomatoland's Bread Paradise room, with a silhouette walking through a door labeled "paradise" that leads to bread-shaped staircase
The Bread Paradise room was inspired by the last scene of 1998's "The Truman Show." Image © Tomatoland

Lead designer Fiona Dong hopes her contribution to the environmental conversation lights a fire under the exhibit’s guests. “I expect people to think about the excessive consumption and environmental problems in the city and...to take action now," she says. 

Admission is $22 (€20) for adults, $18 (€16) for students, and $16 (€14) for kids ages 2 to 12. To buy tickets, or for more information, visit thetomatoland.com

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