Tomás Saraceno’s Cloud City on the Metropolitan Museum of Art Roof Garden

Cloud City installation at MoMA's Roof Garden in Manhattan.

You know it's almost summer when the Metropolitan Museum of Art opens up its fabulous Roof Garden once again, complete with amazing Central Park views, snack and cocktail bar (the Met Roof Garden New York is always an excellent spot for a date, or to bring out-of-town visitors), sunshine and breezes, and, of course, the Met's annual rooftop art installation. In summers past the Met Roof Garden has been the stage for some first-rate (and fun!) works by such renowned contemporary artists as Roxy Paine, Jeff Koons, Andy Goldsworthy, Sol LeWitt, Frank Stella, and Doug and Mike Starn, aka the Starn Twins, whose ever-changing piece "Big Bambu" utterly transformed the space last year. 

Visitor climbing up Cloud City stairs at MoMA's Tomas Saraceno installation.

Tomás Saraceno: Cloud City

This year the Metropolitan Museum of Art Roof Garden's coveted commission went out to Argentine artist Tomás Saraceno, and he responded with a real dazzler, a brand new, perspective-skewing installation, Cloud City. Soaring more than two stories above the deck, Cloud City–Saraceno's largest such work in his decade-long series of similar pieces–is constructed from a series of pods, or modules, made from a tricky combination of transparent and reflective panels. Tricky because once you get up INSIDE Tomás Saraceno's Cloud City (more on that in a second), it becomes very difficult to determine which end is up, which way to turn, and whether that next step is going to send you plummeting to the terrace below. It is, of course, totally safe… it just FEELS dangerous. 

New Yorkers in front of Cloud City at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Roof Garden.

But even if you don't get to actually climb into Tomás Saraceno's Cloud City–with timed entries and limited access, this'll be a hot ticket all summer long–Tomás Saraceno's many-mirrored structure is enough of a mind-blower that you can totally appreciate the effect just by walking around the structure, and trying to figure out what each side is reflecting, and how it relates to the people walking around inside. From some angles Tomás Saraceno's Cloud City looks like an MC Escher "impossible staircase" drawing come to life.  

Visitors climbed up Tomás Saraceno’s Cloud City installation on the MoMA Roof Garden.

So how do you get tickets to walk around inside Tomás Saraceno's Cloud City on the Met Roof Garden? Go early, or get lucky. When we arrived at around 2:45 on the installation's first sunny day, all tickets were already gone. Here's the thing: you have to get the tickets in person, at the museum (they're free with your Met admission), for that day only, first-come, first served, and they only distribute about twenty-five or so for each 30-minute session between 10:00 and 4:00. There are lots of other restrictions as well (for example, no cameras, no heels, no one under 10 years old), so make sure you check the Met's Cloud City Visitor Experience and Guidelines page, here, before going. But even if you can't get inside Cloud City, hanging around the outside is well worth a visit or three this summer. 

Reflections of people in the Tomás Saraceno’s Cloud City sculpture on the MoMA Roof Garden.

Tomás Saraceno's Cloud City on the Met Roof Garden Details 

Tomás Saraceno's Cloud City will be on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art New York Roof Garden through November 4. The Met is open Tuesday through Thursday, and Sunday, from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and on Friday and Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. The Roof Garden is closed in inclement weather. The Metropolitan Museum of Art  is located on Fifth Avenue at 82nd Street. As always, the price of admission to the Met is "suggested." For more information about the Met's Roof Garden exhibition of Tomás Saraceno's Cloud City, please see the Met's website, here

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