Scratch-Off Bus Stop Ads Reveal Hidden Art

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Oh, bus stop ads: so often a target for vandals and bored commuters. But here's a clever ad that invites you to deface it. Underneath an unassuming black-and-white ad for a museum exhibition is a whole world of hidden art.

To advertise its new archaeology-as-art exhibit, The Way of the Shovel, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago is asking bystanders to excavate their own art. With a coin or even a fingernail, you can scratch out your own design or dig out a piece of the artwork underneath. The museum got permission to create the scratchable ads from JCDecaux, the company that owns the Chicago bus shelters and many, many others worldwide.

The firm Classic Color helped the museum produce these ads, and they gave Gizmodo a few more details about how the bus shelter ads were printed:

The scratch-off material is a special coating we apply that flakes off upon being scratched, much like lottery tickets. The image you see underneath is printed on the non-exposed side of the plastic. On the opposing side we apply the scratch-off coating, which is all silver in color. After the coating process we used a large-format digital printer to print the shovel and accompanying copy directly onto the scratch-off coating. The advertisement itself was affixed with backlighting so that the exposed areas glowed at nighttime.


If you happen to be in Chicago, here is where you can scratch n' wait for the bus at the same time:

#101 at 237 N. Michigan Avenue, just south of Wacker
#157 at 2 E. Chicago Avenue, Chicago and State
#31 at 360 W. Madison Street, Madison and Wacker
#974 at 55 E. Monroe Street, Monroe and Wabash


These scratch-off bus stop ads seem like a pretty brilliant marriage of concept and message. And knowing there are hidden wonders in something as mundane as a bus shelter ad makes the drudgery of commuting just a little better. [Classic Color via DesignTAXI]

Images via the MCA. Mark Dion for the shovel illustration on the top layer and Tony Tasset for the photograph underneath.