Cloud-Like Ceiling Interacts With Museum Visitors

Cloud-Like Ceiling Interacts With Museum Visitors

New York City design firms develop an engaging, suspended roof for science installations in Queens.

Ryan Gerhardt
  • 8 january 2013

The New York Hall of Science (NYSCI) in Queens was originally built as an exhibit pavilion for the 1964 World’s Fair. Today, it’s the home of one of New York City’s many great museums as an interactive science and technology center.

NYSCI needed a piece that would tie together their entire ‘ReGeneration’ exhibit, which is currently going on. ReGeneration is an exhibit that looks at the links between culture, urbanization, sustainability, and immigration through the lenses of art and science. So NYSCI turned to New York City’s best design firms looking for an installation that could not only serve as a physical cover for the exhibit, but also act as a piece in the exhibit as well.

In collaboration with the design firm The Living and engineering consultants from Arup, creative studio SOFTlab came up with the winning idea for the project.




Dubbed ‘Common Weathers,’ the exhibit is a ‘cloud’ structure suspended from the ceiling that interacts with the light shed on the exhibits and patrons below. The ceiling is composed of over 5,000 Mylar panels, a high-tensile plastic, that are laser cut and arranged to allow differing levels of transparency. The entire structure is held in place by a series of wooden rings, with the panels starting close together at the bottom and becoming more of a lattice near the top.


The structure of the ceiling allows for different amounts and angles of light to strike the exhibits below, creating a unique experience for each piece depending on whether your standing in front of it, to the side, or even peering down from above.

Embedded into the middle of the cloud ‘funnels’ are lights that glow and blink interactively with the public. Visitors can text ‘the cloud’ asking questions or commenting on the projects, which causes the lights to blink in response to particular areas of the exhibit and general interest. This public participation feature aligns well with NYSCI’s hands-on mission, and makes the viewing more exciting.


ReGeneration presents works from 10 artists, reflecting on the cultural history and interaction that arises from New York City’s diversity. The show is running now until January 13th, and is definitely worth a look.

However, if you can’t make it to NYSCI, you can always check out the gallery below:



Photos by Alan Tansey

Graphic via designboom



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