Chris Burden, Metropolis II, 2010

Chris Burden, Metropolis II, 2010, courtesy of the Nicolas Berggruen Charitable Foundation, © Chris Burden/licensed by The Chris Burden Estate and Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, photo © Museum Associates/LACMA

Conservation of Metropolis II

March 23, 2020
Madeleine Heppermann, Assistant Editor, Communications

As the hustle and bustle of L.A. slows down, find out what happens when Chris Burden’s kinetic sculpture, Metropolis II, needs a little R&R of its own.

While we can’t quantify the countless hours conservators spend ensuring the artwork runs to perfection, or the hours of joy that the energetic, buzzing mini-city has brought to visitors of all ages, we thought it would be fun to look at some aspects of Metropolis II by the numbers:

  • 1,100 custom-made cars
  • 4 different car body types
  • 8 electric loop trains
  • 5 electric trolleys
  • 18 lanes for the cars to travel on
  • 1,656 magnets (to pull the individual cars) on 3 conveyor chains
  • 200+ buildings
  • 9 different building materials
  • 4 conservators solely focused on the sculpture’s maintenance and care
  • 35 hours per week spent cleaning, repairing, and making improvements to the sculpture
  • 538 hours on average is the amount of time a car spends on the sculpture before it wears out and needs to be permanently retired
  • 4,800 hours of runtime for Metropolis II since arriving at LACMA in 2012

LACMA is temporarily closed to the public until further notice. Rest assured that Metropolis II will be up and running when the galleries reopen.