New York’s Metropolitan of Art Presents “Cloud City” Rooftop Exhibition




LOOK UP in the sky.

A futuristic flock of seagulls? A compact version of the Space Shuttle?  A summer home for Spiderman?


An airborne community of Inuit igloos? 


A space age amusement park ride? A contemporary tree house?

HINT……if you are thinking perhaps this is a new genus of cumulus clouds, you are on the right track.

Okay, since there are no cash prizes for the right answer, only personal glory, I’ll explain.


This is “Cloud City” by Tomas Saraceno.  This enormous object d’arte currently sits on the roof of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and will be there as a “hands (and feet~!) on” exhibit until November 4th, 2012. It is on loan from Christian Keesee.  I, for one, am extremely grateful to Mr. Keesee for sharing this visionary structure with the residents and visitors of New York City thru Nov. 4th.



We truly utilize every summer time inch of Gotham, and take full advantage of our outside spaces during these warm months. And so our rooftops take on special use. They become our “tar beach,” rooftop garden parties abound and they serve as perfect sites for fireworks viewing. There is a freedom on a rooftop- often you are the only one up there- and airy visions and dreams are nurtured.  But the MMA has added a special spin to the city dweller’s use of this elevated air.

“On the roof’s the only place I know…

 where you just have to wish to make it so…oh, let’s go up on the roof.”  

Every summer the MMA selects thought provoking, outdoor pieces that can survive the elements for viewing on its extensive roof “en pleine air.”   Previously we have experienced “Big Bamboo”- a constantly “growing” series of bamboo sticks which we were welcome to ascend – a work always in progress thus inviting us to climb farther and further into the sky. And I vividly recall the colorful balloon like works of Jeff Koons resting against a fabulous summer blue sky on the MMA’s ultimate level.

To further enhance the joy, a tiki-like snack bar serving summer drinks is open on the MMA roof, which surely helps fan the flames for the fun conversations sparked by such remarkable structures.

This year’s display is an exceptionally interesting configuration.  “Cloud City” is a modular group of non–linear, somewhat octagonal connected cubes….some sides are mirrored, some are half transparent, some of a pure white color.  They are stainless steel and acrylic but appear airy, weightless and unbalanced…slightly web-like, yet structurally sturdy…serious yet playful.



You may very well ask : Is “Cloud City” an engineering exercise? Architectural?  Scientic?  Is it Art?  Would it appear differently on a level ground setting, or in an individual room?  Is it organic? Can you add another module to its current design? 

These are logical questions certain to initiate debate.

YES…you can climb up in it, tickets are given out for free with museum admission. Ask at the main information desk, they will direct you as to where to pick up your tickets. They allow two at a time up this structure on the ½ hour. You must wear rubber soled shoes and check all your bags.



Now I apologize that this article is riddled with questions, but good art ignites good dialogue, formulates inquiries, and a piece like “Cloud City” is ripe for discussion.

However, I can provide an answer to another query you may or may not have.



That is brave Jessica, our illustrious UYC Editor, and fearful me (height was never my strong suite) holding onto Jess inside “Cloud City” on a glorious NYC July 4th Holiday. What a way to celebrate America’s Birthday, we are touching the sky!  What we don’t do for UsedYorkCity?!

WHAT: “Cloud City”
WHERE: Metropolitan Museum of Art
Fifth Avenue and 83rd Street/On the Roof
(212) 396-5300
WHEN: Tuesdays thru Thursday, Sunday:  9:30 AM to 5 PM
Friday and Saturday: 9:30AM to 9 PM
Exhibit runs through November 4th, 2012
TICKETS: Suggested Donation for Admission

Contributed by Joanne Theodorou


Jessica Tiare Bowen
Jessica Tiare Bowen lives in the juicy Big Apple with her adorable pink-nosed chihuahua, Gillman. He's the inspiration for her first published children's book, "Park Avenue Pound Puppy." The book is the combined result of her two greatest passions: pooches and penning stories.

Her passions include art, urban hikes through Manhattan, drinking coffee with 3 creams and 6 sugars, making extremely detailed itineraries and traveling to far away places, singing along to Broadway shows, Netflix movie nights, discovering incredible treasures at Goodwill and thrift stores, and listening to stories from little people under 7 and big people over 70.

She started her career as New York City Teaching Fellow, teaching elementary school and theater arts at a special education school in the South Bronx for 6 years. She is now a Special Education School Improvement Specialist working in public schools throughout New York City. She is the Editor-In-Chief of the online New York City travel magazine, Used York City. The magazine focuses on finding the best of New used by New Yorkers. She is a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, and an ASPCA Ambassador.
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