Honey, They Shrunk The World: NYC Exhibition Lets You Tour A Tiny Globe The miniature models of Gulliver's Gate represent places in Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas. They're populated by tiny people, pint–size penguins and bitty cars that move.
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Honey, They Shrunk The World: NYC Exhibition Lets You Tour A Tiny Globe

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Honey, They Shrunk The World: NYC Exhibition Lets You Tour A Tiny Globe

Honey, They Shrunk The World: NYC Exhibition Lets You Tour A Tiny Globe

Honey, They Shrunk The World: NYC Exhibition Lets You Tour A Tiny Globe

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/536505372/536505373" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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Tiny houses are lit from inside in this miniature model of Valparaíso, Chile. Courtesy of Gulliver's Gate hide caption

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Courtesy of Gulliver's Gate

Tiny houses are lit from inside in this miniature model of Valparaíso, Chile.

Courtesy of Gulliver's Gate

New York's Time Square is known to many as the crossroads of the world — and now a new tourist attraction displays much of it under one roof. Gulliver's Gate is a miniature, for-profit exhibition populated by tiny people and the equally small things that exist in their world.

The exhibition is made up of miniature models that represent places in Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas. Similar to real-life, there are moving cars, trains, planes and boats — but every model has its own quirks. In the United Kingdom, there are wee versions of Buckingham Palace, the Tower Bridge and a movie theater filled with penguins watching Happy Feet. In New York City, a tiny Spider-Man climbs the Brooklyn Bridge. The New York display was made by Brooklyn model makers who couldn't resist etching images of themselves onto the front of the New York Stock Exchange.

The exhibition's New York display, including a miniature Brooklyn Bridge, was created by local model-makers. Courtesy of Gulliver's Gate hide caption

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Courtesy of Gulliver's Gate

The exhibition's New York display, including a miniature Brooklyn Bridge, was created by local model-makers.

Courtesy of Gulliver's Gate

According to Gulliver's Gate CEO Eiran Gazit, the rest of the models were made abroad. "We said, 'Let's build every area that is displayed in that area.' So Europe from the view of a European, Russia from the view of a Russian, South America or Latin America from the view of an Argentinian."

Model makers on different continents also used different technologies. Argentina's Iguazu Falls were re-created with real water, and so was the Panama Canal, which has working locks. Danish technology controls some of the mini-vehicles that pass through streets and countrysides.

The 50,000-square-foot exhibition spans four rooms and is lit up by thousands of LED lightbulbs controlled by a similar system to what's used on Broadway. The models sit on platforms 3 to 4 feet off the ground, accompanied by low-to-the-floor benches for younger visitors to stand on for a better view.

Model makers re-created Argentina's Iguazu Falls with real water. Courtesy of Gulliver's Gate hide caption

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Courtesy of Gulliver's Gate

Model makers re-created Argentina's Iguazu Falls with real water.

Courtesy of Gulliver's Gate

Matthew Coté, the exhibition's chief technology officer, says, "In places, we want them to see the computers that live under the tables, we want them to see the blinking lights, because that's part of the fun. That's part of what makes nerds like me go, 'Wow, how did they do that?' "

For a few extra dollars, visitors can step into a 3-D scanner and print out tiny plastic replicas of themselves to place in the exhibition. Like the bigger world, Gulliver's Gate shows people from all walks of life, including homeless people.

Model maker Yu-ting Ling works on part of the Gulliver's Gate Asia display. Courtesy of Gulliver's Gate hide caption

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Courtesy of Gulliver's Gate

Model maker Yu-ting Ling works on part of the Gulliver's Gate Asia display.

Courtesy of Gulliver's Gate

Artistic director Tim Gilman-Sevcik says he wants to show urban life as it really is. "You get to see this kind of juxtaposition that we have here of somebody being loaded onto an ambulance, and then on the rooftop just overhead there's a party going on. So it's showing that the city has innumerable stories running in parallel all the time."

But it wasn't necessarily the stories that got 12-year-old Nicholas Kawasaki jazzed. "Under the British Isles, there's the Yellow Submarine," he says. "Oh man, this place is awesome."

Sydnee Monday and Nicole Cohen adapted this story for the Web.

Correction July 27, 2017

A previous photo caption incorrectly identified the top image as a miniature model of Rio de Janeiro. In fact, it is a model of Valparaíso, Chile.