Subway platforms can be grimy, gross, and – according to most kids – boooring. But instead of looking at rats scurrying between the rails, turn around and treat yourself and the kids to a mini-exhibition of exquisite art right on the platform. Thanks to the MTA’s Arts for Transit and Urban Design who commissioned all the artwork, most subway platforms are bona fide art galleries filled with gorgeous glass mosaics and tiles that tell stories about our city. Starting from lower Manhattan subway stops and going north, here are 18 murals and mosaics worth taking a detour. The best part for kids? They can touch this art as much as they want.

1. Oculus

Where: Chambers St. & Park Place; A, C, 2, 3 lines

The Art: Mothers may have eyes in the back of their heads, but that’s nothing compared to Andrew Ginzel and Kristin Jones’ Oculus. More than three hundred eyes - each about the size of a piece of notebook paper--watch our every move (and making the NSA green with envy) throughout this interconnecting subway stop. Located under the World Trade Center, this artwork miraculously remained largely intact after the 9/11 attacks and will hopefully do so for a long time to come.

Nearby Kid Stuff: Drop in for an indoor playtime at New York Kids Club (88 Leonard St.), shop at or join Torly Kid’s book club (51 Hudson St.), or visit the 9/11 Memorial using Red Tricycle’s kid-friendly guide.

-Alice Perry

What’s your favorite subway station art? Tell us in the comments.

All photos courtesy of Alice Perry