The Great Public Art at the Cleveland Museum of Art That No One Saw



This really happened. Really.
  • This really happened. Really.

Late in the evening on Saturday, June 19, a team installed 100 large weather balloons around the facade of the Cleveland Museum of Art. Mark Reigelman II, a 2006 graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Art, had designed the work and partnered with Cleveland Public Art to display the 100 floating balls in conjunction with the museum's Summer Solstice party.

What? You didn't see them? Hmm. Wonder why not? 100 gigantic yellow balloons surrounding one of the hallmark institutions of the city would be hard to miss.

Well, you missed them because they were there, briefly, and then they all came down amid a furry of boxcutters a few hours later — intentionally, mind you, it's not like there was a rogue act of art terrorism that someone missed.

The balloons were supposed to stay up long enough for people to, you know, see and appreciate them, but weather balloons being subject to weather and all, when bad weather arrived, the balloons had to come down.

Called "White Cloud," the installation was intended to create a dreamlike tableau, which would temporarily transform the neoclassical architecture of the museum's building.

Photographs of the brief installation during the wee hours of Saturday, June 19, shared by Cleveland Public Art, which led the project for the museum, look terrific.

Alas, early in the a.m., the wind started gusting between 15 and 20 mph. With forecasters predicting thunderstorms throughout the day, project organizers, including Greg Peckham, director of Cleveland Public Art, decided to dismantle the installation.

"Aside from the five or six of us present at 3:30 a.m. for the lighting test, no one in Cleveland got to see the incredible installation," Peckham wrote in an e-mail.

Are you sad you never saw it? Or are you sad that they didn't invite you to come stab the balloons when they needed to come down?

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