How ExpoMetro is turning giant billboards into Global Collective Artworks in cities around the world

Rudolph van Valkenburg
6 min readNov 17, 2021
ExpoMetro Paris — Chaussée d’Antin Lafayette Metro Station — September 2020

Back in 2004 when I was living in Paris, I liked to look at the massive billboards along the platforms in the Metro (French Subway). In fact they were not only big but also elegantly framed like a piece of Art in a typical Parisian Art Nouveau Style.

I started envisioning a world where ads could be replaced by Art and kept this image in the back of my mind.

A few years later, after a short work experience at Christies and in an art gallery, my passion for creativity pushed me to become a digital entrepreneur. This is how I founded ArtQuid, a global marketplace to discover, buy & sell Art online. The self-funded startup became a vibrant community of 100,000 artists from around the world with a mission to enable creators to make a living from their passion.

Beyond Digital
As a pure player passionate about digital innovation I wanted to create more than just a online marketplace. Believing that Virtual Reality will reinvent the Future of Online Art I launched ArtQuid 3D in 2016. This new feature allowed 10,000 artists to create their customized 3D & VR galleries on desktop and mobile.

But my thirst for innovation went beyond digital. I wanted to explore new ways to promote artists in both the virtual and physical world.

💡 The image of the Metro billboards hit my mind. What if advertising spaces could be used as giant canvases to showcase artworks and at the same time be directly accessible online through a QR code?

I immediately launched a crowdfunding to test the idea and in a month 380 artists participated.

The concept was simple. In exchange of a financial contribution — in average less than €100 — artists would get in return:
✔️ Public exposure: their Art featured on a billboard in the Metro,
✔️ Digital exposure: their Art accessible online on a virtual billboard with a link to their website,
✔️ Promotion: their Art visible in an official photo/video shoot promoted on social media.

1st Edition — ExpoMetro Paris, December 2018 🇫🇷
The first expo took place in Paris at Châtelet Metro station with 8 massive 4x3 meters billboards along the platform.

ExpoMetro Paris — Châtelet Metro Station — December 2018
ExpoMetro Paris — Châtelet Metro Station — December 2018

▶️ Watch the video of ExpoMetro Paris 2018

The vision became reality when 380 artworks by independents artists from all horizons were suddenly visible by 500,000 people during one week in one of the most crowded Metro station in Central Paris.

On the other hand, thousands of commuters could discover Art instead of ads on the walls of the station. These massive colorful collages composed of individual paintings, drawings, sculptures, photographies and digital art transformed the station into a giant eclectic Art gallery.

The name ExpoMetro emerged during this first expo with a new mission to make Art accessible to everyone outside the walls of museums and galleries by bringing Art directly in contact with people in their daily lives. website

Following this first experience artists started asking for more expos in other cities. Organizing such an event obvisoulsy required organization and until now everything was done manually.

So I decided to create a website called This allowed artists to participate in a click to upload directly their Art on a Digital Collective Artwork and let ExpoMetro take care of the rest.

2nd Edition —ExpoMetro London, December 2019 🇬🇧
The new website allowed 500 artists to participate in the 2nd edition of ExpoMetro that took place within the iconic London Underground in December 2019.

ExpoMetro London — London Underground — December 2019

▶️ Watch the video of ExpoMetro London 2019

The 30 cross-track billboards were visible by 1 million commuters during 2 weeks at the 10 most prestigious tube stations in the heart of London such as Oxford Circus, Westminster, Piccadilly Circus and Bond Street.

3rd Edition — ExpoMetro Paris, September 2020 🇫🇷
The registrations for the third edition went so fast that after two weeks the 8 billboards were already fully booked. So I decided to reserve an additional 8 billboards for another week.

ExpoMetro Paris — Chaussée d’Antin Lafayette Metro Station — September 2020
Special “Merci” (Thank you in French) billboard dedicated to all the Heroes who helped during the pandemic. ExpoMetro Paris — Chaussée d’Antin Lafayette Metro Station — September 2020

▶️ Watch the video of ExpoMetro Paris 2020

The expo was supposed to happen in May 2020 but because of COVID it was postponed to September.

🙏 We decided together with the 600 participating artists to create a special “Merci” (Thank You in French) billboard for all the Heroes who helped during the pandemic: nursing staff, cleaners, transport agents, cashiers and all the people who supported us during these difficult times.

While galleries and museums were closed because of COVID artists started seeing in ExpoMetro a new cultural public event bringing Art to people as a sign of hope, creativity and positive energy!

4th Edition — ExpoMetro Berlin, December 2020 🇩🇪
Three months later ExpoMetro launched its 4th edition in the Berlin U-Bahn at Mehringdamm and Zoologischer Garten Stations.

ExpoMetro Berlin — Mehringdamm Station U-Bahn — December 2020
ExpoMetro Berlin — Mehringdamm Station U-Bahn — December 2020

▶️ Watch the video of ExpoMetro Berlin 2020

Because of COVID I couldn’t travel to Berlin to discover the 30 billboards and meet the artists. But the vibrant German artists community was particularly active and shared many photos posing in front of their Art.

Participating in ExpoMetro became a fun experience where artists are proud to have their Art showcased in an exceptional public space and share this moment with friends.

5th Edition — ExpoMetro Monaco, July 2021 🇲🇨
After 2x Paris, London and Berlin, ExpoMetro continued its Grand European Tour at the Principality of Monaco, renowned international glamor spot on the Riviera.

ExpoMetro Monaco — Streets of Monte Carlo — July 2021
ExpoMetro Monaco — Streets of Monte Carlo — July 2021

▶️ Watch the video of ExpoMetro Monaco 2021

For the first time ExpoMetro took place outside a subway: 8 billboards and 380 participating artists were directly visible to people in the streets.

The open air spectacle was unique: the colors of the artworks were sublimated by the beautiful light of the Côte d’Azur and stood out in the middle of the Belle Epoque urban architecture.

6th Edition — ExpoMetro New York City, December 2021 🇺🇸
New York remained the top favorite destination for artists. So it was time for ExpoMetro to cross the Atlantic and GO BIG. 👊👊👊

ExpoMetro New York City — Streets of Manhattan — December 2021

Instead of multiple billboards, ExpoMetro reserved a single GIANT 30x20 feet (9x6m) billboard showcasing a Collective Artwork featuring 461 artists and 792 individual artworks in the heart of Manhattan during one week from 13th to 17th December.

▶️ Discover the Official ExpoMetro NYC Digital Collective Artwork

💎 NEW — 1st NFT Sale by ExpoMetro
For the first time ExpoMetro will put on auction a Unique 1:1 NFT of the Official ExpoMetro NYC Digital Collective Artwork. The buyer will be the unique owner of a unique piece of Digital Art History.

🎁 Bonus: A second 1:1 NFT will be gifted to the owner.

💰 90% of the sale will be split between all participating artists.

Stay Tuned!

💎💎💎 COMING SOON —The Official ExpoMetro NFT Collection
Following the ExpoMetro NYC NFT Sale, ExpoMetro will put on auction the Official ExpoMetro Collection of 83 Unique 1:1 NFTs of the previous Collective Artworks showcased in Paris, London, Berlin and Monaco.

A massive thank you to the 2,000 artists from around the world who participated at ExpoMetro and made it happen. Thank you also to all the readers of this story. Please feel free to leave your comments below. I’ll be happy to answer all your questions. And let me know what could be your next top destination for ExpoMetro in the world! 🌎🙌