Many visitors to the Metropolitan Museum of Art don’t realize that there’s a hidden gem on the roof of the museum – the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Roof Garden. The Roof Garden is open from May through October each year, and there is a special rooftop exhibition each season. This year’s exhibition is a single, large sculpture by British artist Cornelia Parker titled Transitional Object (PsychoBarn).
The sculpture reminded me of a haunted house, which made a lot of sense once I read the museum’s description of it:
“A large-scale sculpture by acclaimed British artist Cornelia Parker, inspired by the paintings of Edward Hopper and by two emblems of American architecture—the classic red barn and the Bates family’s sinister mansion from Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 film Psycho—comprises the fourth annual installation of site-specific works commissioned for The Met’s Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Roof Garden.
Nearly 30 feet high, the sculpture is fabricated from a deconstructed red barn and seems at first to be a genuine house, but is in fact a scaled-down structure consisting of two facades propped up from behind with scaffolding. Simultaneously authentic and illusory, Transitional Object (PsychoBarn) evokes the psychological associations embedded in architectural spaces.”
When I turned around and looked the other direction, I captured this reflection of the sculpture in the museum’s windows.
Beyond the sculpture, the Roof Garden offers some amazing views of Central Park and the Manhattan skyline. If you look northwest across Central Park, you can capture a glimpse of the Eldorado’s double towers. The Eldorado, with its art deco architectural details, was constructed as a luxury apartment building in Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Some of the Eldorado’s residents over the years have included author Sinclair Lewis; actors Alec Baldwin, Faye Dunaway, and Michael J. Fox; radio personality Garrison Keillor; and musician Moby.
The lush green of Central Park is even more evident as you look south from the roof, and you will have even more city skyline views. (It was a bit hazy when I took this photo, but still beautiful views.)
And then to the southeast there are the luxury apartment buildings that line Fifth Avenue on the Upper East Side.
The rooftop is open in the evenings on Fridays and Saturdays (until 8:00 pm), like the rest of the museum (although the rest of the museum is open until 9:00 pm on those days). On those evenings, the Roof Garden even offers a bar where visitors can purchase a variety of alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks.
As a reminder, the best way to get to the Metropolitan Museum of Art is by public transportation. If traveling by subway, take the 4, 5, or 6 train to 86th Street, and then walk west to Fifth Avenue. You can also reach the museum by bus on the M1, M2, M3, or M4 routes. If taking one of these routes going north, you will travel up Madison Avenue to the 83rd Street stop. If coming from points further north, take one of these bus routes south along Fifth Avenue to the 82nd Street stop, right next to the museum.