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Living room built around N.Y. Columbus statue

NEW YORK — Anyone who hoped to commune with Christopher Columbus on Columbus Day was disappointed: He was booked solid. Monday’s tickets to the conceptual art installation that surrounds a 13-foot statue of the explorer with a well-appointed living room were all snapped up.

The exhibit, ‘‘Discovering Columbus’’ by Japanese artist Tatzu Nishi, has become a must-see cultural attraction in New York since it opened Sept. 20. Some 20,000 people have made the walk up six flights of stairs for the up-close view of Columbus, as well as the unique views of Midtown Manhattan and Central Park.

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‘‘Living room in the sky? I thought ‘Cool. Check it out,’ ’’ said business analyst Brianna Goodman, who visited this past week. ‘‘I would never have thought to build a living room around a statue, but it made it like an intimate setting. And then the view from up there!’’

Not everyone is a fan. John Mancini, executive director of the Italic Institute of America, said the artwork turns the 1892 statue by Italian sculptor Gaetano Russo into ‘‘a stage prop.’’

The statue rests on a 60-foot granite column at the southwest corner of Central Park. Columbus’s marble features usually are visible only from afar.

Free timed tickets of the exhibit, presented by the city’s Public Art Fund, can be reserved at before it ends Nov. 18.

For his first installation in the United States, Nishi has perched Columbus’s home atop scaffolding that encases the column. The statue rises out of a large coffee table so that it seems to preside over a highbrow salon. Pink wallpaper, designed by the artist, depicts American icons Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe, and Martin Luther King Jr.

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