MANHATTAN — The rooftop of the Metropolitan Museum of Art has been transformed into a "Cloud City."
Argentine artist Tomas Saraceno's eye-popping, site-specific installation — a large constellation of 16 interconnected modules, measuring 54 feet long and 28 feet high — will be accessible to museum visitors in limited numbers through Nov. 4. The piece was slated to open Tuesday, but remained closed because of the rain.
Museum-goers will be able to spend up to 20 minutes walking through the hive-like structure, with its transparent and reflective materials, to catch various perspectives of the city's skyline amid the leafy expanse of Central Park.
The spheres are inspired by various phenomena found in nature or elsewhere, such as clouds, bubbles, bacteria, foam and social or neural communication networks, according to Met officials.
"Upside down, Central Park is a flying garden embedded in a cumulus cloud, mirrored buildings and skies appear under your feet, gravity seems to reorient itself, and people are multiplied in patchworks of cloudscape, forming unexpected interconnected networks," Saraceno said in a statement.
He called the piece, which merges art, science and architecture, an "invitation" to challenge perceptions. It's envisioned as a floating city of sorts that defies notions of gravity and celebrates a different kind of human interaction based on ecologically sustainable concepts.
"'Cloud City' is a vehicle for our imagination," Saraceno said, "ready to transport us beyond social, political, and geographical states of mind."
The piece, which took two years to develop for the Met, represents Saraceno's first show in the U.S.
The artist, born in Argentina in 1973, had a solo show called "Cloud Cities," most recently at the Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin. His work "Galaxies forming like water droplets along a spider’s web" appeared at the 2009 Venice Biennele, the same year he won the Calder Prize, a bi-annual award given to artists who have produced innovative work early in their careers.
The Met has installed 14 other exhibits on its rooftop, including works by Ellsworth Kelly, Cai Guo-Quing and Jeff Koons.
Because of safety concerns, the Met has issued strict guidelines for access to the structure. For instance, children must be 10 years old and at least 48 inches tall to visit. Guests must weigh less than 400 pounds and cannot be under the influence of any intoxicants.
The museum also recommends that people with heart or respiratory conditions, are pregnant or have impaired mobility opt out. No high heels will be allowed — only flats with rubber soles — and all purses, bags, cellphones, cameras and other handheld items must be checked in a locker.
Since the installation is weather permitting, visitors are advised to call 212-396-5300 to check the schedule.