It’s true; there are talking statues. In dozens of parks all around the world, statues have started sharing their stories if you know how. Have you ever walked by a statue and wondered who they were, what they did or why a statue was created?
Now, some statues can tell you precisely that. A growing number of statues, called Talking Statues, can call you on your smartphone, and talk to you, giving you a brief history and background about the statue. More about how later.
The first Talking Statue appeared in Copenhagen, Denmark in 2013. Mr. David Peter Fox had taken his kids to a park where there were several statues, and he thought, “How can I teach my kids about these statues.” Thus the idea was sparked, and he set about to bring it to life. The result is that Talking Statues can now be found in Helsinki, London, San Diego (first in the USA), Berlin, Vilnius (Capital of Lithuania), Manchester (UK), Dublin, Chicago, and New York City.
The first talking statue I found happens to be the very first one introduced to the public, of Hans Christian Andersen, in Copenhagen. Later, when I was in New York City, I discovered a talking statue was located there as well, so I set off to find it. The HC Andersen statue in New York is in a beautiful location by the Hobby Boat Pond in Central Park.
Each Talking Statue has a sign with information on how to hear it talk. Sadly the sign for the Hans Christian Andersen statue is not next to or what I would consider near the statue. It is on the main walkway instead of adjacent to the statue, which would have made more sense to me. I’m sure many people miss out on the opportunity to hear about Mr. Anderson because of this. Luckily I did find the sign and was able to listen to the story behind this statue of the beloved fairytale storyteller – Hans Christian Andersen.
New York City’s 35 Talking Statues
In New York City there are now 35 talking statues. Information about the statues can be found on the talking statues website, below, along with a nice map of each statue’s location. There are a few gaps – I found several statues like Christopher Columbus, Robert Burns, and William Shakespeare, where the signs are missing. Fortunately, I did find several others that did have signs. In Copenhagen, the sign is mounted directly on the statue much easier to find.
One of my favorite statues was Balto, the sled dog. I was moved when I heard that he represents the sled dogs that completed a very harsh, challenging lifesaving journey delivering a vital serum to Nome, Alaska in 1925, indeed saving many lives. Amazing. There were dozens of people at the statue, and I am sure most of them had no clue of the story behind the statue; they probably thought it was just a cute dog. I found it immensely rewarding to learn of Balto’s heroics, thanks to the talking statue.
Learning History Made Easier
Talking statues are an excellent way for tourist (and residents) and children to learn about the local history and culture they are visiting. To me, statues have so much more meaning when you can stop and hear their story to understand why they are there.
How to Hear a Statue Talk
At these select statues, you will find a sign with information including a QR code and a URL. You must have a smartphone and Internet access (typically using your phone’s data). If you have a QR code scanner on your phone, you scan the code, and the statue will call you. Just like magic. When the statue calls you, answer it! It will tell you exciting details and history of the figure you are looking at, usually in less than two minutes.
Alternatively, you can type the URL in a browser on your phone, and it will do the same thing. The calls work on both iPhone and Android phones.
Statues are expensive, with historical value, and should be able to tell their story. Yet without them talking to us, we usually pass by without giving them a second thought. What a great innovation to be able to add an audio message to these monuments.
I love to learn about statues and hope the number of talking statues will continue to grow. Here are a few websites to start your adventure of finding them.
A Few URL’s to Learn More
http://www.talkingstatues.com/ (original main Copenhagen website)