Chris Burden, Metropolis II, 2010, courtesy of the Nicolas Berggruen Charitable Foundation, © Chris Burden Estate

Did You Know? Interesting Factoids about Chris Burden’s “Metropolis II”

February 23, 2017

Since its 2012 installation in BCAM, Chris Burden’s Metropolis II has been a crowd favorite. This kinetic sculpture is modeled after the fast-paced, frenetic modern city. 

Chris Burden, Metropolis II, 2010, courtesy of the Nicolas Berggruen Charitable Foundation, © Chris Burden Estate. The operator is standing in the middle of the installation.

1. Have you ever noticed that an operator is in the center of the sculpture when it’s on? You might not have realized that someone has to ensure that everything is running smoothly. (Fun fact: the operator stands on the sculpture, so she has to remove her shoes first!)

2. The sculpture has 1,100 custom-made cars (there are four different body types), eight loop trains, and five trolleys. 

3. Conservators are responsible for repairing and cleaning the vehicles. The most common problem they deal with? Wheels that fall off the cars. (Fun fact: each car averages 539 hours on the sculpture before it wears out.)

Fastest car in Metropolis II

4. The fastest type of car? One that looks like a sports car. Those are the cars that most frequently fall off the tracks.

5. There are over 200 buildings in the sculpture. Only two are made with LEGO® bricks, two incorporate Lincoln Logs, and one is made of cards. HABA blocks are one of the most widely used building materials for the architecture on the sculpture, and were stained, painted, and modified, in addition to being used straight out of the box.

Below, kinetic sculpture conservator Alison Walker tells us about how the sculpture works, how they keep track of time logged by each car, and more!

Visit Metropolis II in action! The work is in operation on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, and select holiday Mondays.