Imagine Mosaic (Manhattan, New York)

Imagine Mosaic Memorial
Photo by Images George Rex

Designated as a Quiet Zone in the New York City’s Central Park, the Imagine Memorial Mosaic was created by Italian craftsmen and given as a gift by the city of Naples, Italy. Based on a well-known Greco-Roman design, the mosaic bears a single word of Lennon’s song, Imagine. The Imagine Mosaic is the centerpiece of Strawberry Fields, a 2.5-acre landscaped section of central park designed by Bruce Kelly and unveiled October 9, 1985.

Along the path near the mosaic, there is a bronze plaque that lists the 121 countries that endorse Strawberry Fields as a Garden of Peace. All of the countries listed on the plaque planted flowers and donated money for maintenance. The Imagine memorial mosaic is shaded by American elms and lined with benches.

Studio Cassio, the Napoletano studio responsible for the Imagine mosaic, has been involved in the fine art of mosaics for more than a hundred years.  Founded by Lorenzo Cassio, who later became the director of the Vatican Mosaic Studio, Studio Cassio has been a family business generations. Lorenzo taught all of his children his own craft and two of his eight children, Fabrizio and Antonio climbed the ranks of mosaicists to rest among the most renowned and famous in the world.

Fabrizio started the current version of the studio in 1945 and with his brother Antonio, became known as two of the best mosaic restoration experts, participating in restoration projects at important historic sites such as Pompeii, St Peter’s Basilica, the Bath’s of Caracalla, the Area Sacra, and the National Museum of Rome.

Under Antonio’s influence, the studio began to be more involved in the creation of original pieces of art with a more modern feel.. This “Civil Art” portion of their business aims to push the boundaries of what mosaics can be and to share the art with people that might otherwise never come in contact with one of their other mosaics. The John Lennon Imagine Memorial is one of the best known pieces to come out of the Civil Art movement at Studio Cassio.

Imagine Mosaic Facts

  • The Imagine Mosaic is located in the Strawberry Fields area of central Park at 72nd street and Central Park West, just across the street from the Dakota where Lennon lived and died.
  • The Central Park Conservancy sells souvenirs such as blankets and coffee mugs that feature the Imagine mosaic.
  • Yoko Ono still lives in the Dakota, where she and John Lennon shared a home before his death. Her windows overlook the Imagine mosaic.
  • Studio Cassio in Naples, Italy created the mosaic as a way to share their artwork with the world.
  • Hundreds of tourists visit the memorial every day and there is an almost endless stream of flowers, candles, strawberries, and poetry left to honor Lennon’s legacy.
  • Studio Cassio continues today as a family owned and operated business.
  • The mosaic measures 11 feet across, but the concrete base on which it rests in only 10 feet in diameter. This has over the years caused it to sink unevenly and crack in places.