NEW YORK (AP) -- A Japanese artist is inviting the public to have an intimate view of Christopher Columbus high above a hectic intersection in midtown Manhattan.

Tatzu Nishi is constructing a contemporary living room on top of the Columbus Monument in Columbus Circle. The monument consists of a 13-foot statue of Columbus perched on a six-story column.

But some Italian-Americans say the art project makes a mockery of the great explorer and trivializes history.

"Discovering Columbus" is commissioned by the nonprofit Public Art Fund. The free exhibition runs from Sept. 20 to Nov. 18.

Nishi has encased the 70-foot-tall column in scaffolding. He's erecting the living room — complete with couch, coffee table and lamps — around the figure of Columbus.

Visitors will be able to reach the living room via stairs or an elevator.