A 340-ton boulder will soon be on its way from Riverside to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) as part of the “Levitated Mass” exhibit. Museum representatives are now working with county officials to figure out exactly how the huge rock will be transported and placed in the park on the LACMA campus near Fairfax Avenue and 6th Street.
According to Barbara Pflaumer, associate vice president of communications and marketing for LACMA, workers have already begun preparing the site where the rock will be placed. “Levitated Mass” is a piece by artist Michael Heizer where the rock will be positioned over a 456-foot-long trench, allowing visitors to walk underneath the massive boulder. Pflaumer said the boulder will rest on the ground, but visitors will have the experience of walking beneath a huge piece of natural granite. The boulder is expected to be moved to the museum during the first part of August, but the undertaking is so complicated that preparations are already underway.
The triangular-shaped boulder, which is approximately 21-feet tall and 21-feet wide, is currently in a granite quarry in Riverside owned by Stone Valley Materials. Brady Kooiman, a partner with Stone Valley Materials, said the artist purchased the rock for $120,000, which was the estimated value based on the amount of sand and gravel that could have been made with the boulder.
“The rock was a mistake, and we can’t wait to see it go. It has been in the way and we want to blast over there,” Kooiman said. “They have already x-rayed the rock and confirmed its weight. We are expecting them to come in early next week to do some testing and to start the process of removing it.”
Pflaumer said LACMA does not comment on the price the museum pays for art pieces, and would not discuss costs associated with moving the boulder. A special trailer, 200 feet long with 200 wheels, will be assembled around the rock. Pflaumer said the Korean shipping company, Hanjin, is paying for the trailer to be built as a donation to LACMA, and Emmrick, the company that transports the space shuttle, will be moving the boulder to LACMA.
The distance between the quarry and LACMA is approximately 60 miles, but the truck will be too big and heavy to travel on freeways, so surface streets will be used. Pflaumer said museum officials hope the trip can be completed in approximately seven days, and hope the boulder will arrive at LACMA on August 14. It will only be moved between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m., as to not cause major disruptions to traffic. Once it is in position just north of the Resnick Pavilion, crews will have to complete additional installation work, and the exhibit is expected to open in November.
Bob Spencer, chief of public affairs for the Los Angeles County Public Works Department, said the move will take a lot of coordination between different agencies, but that the county is routinely involved in large moving projects.
“We do two to three large moves a month, and they are primarily power transformers or other large things used for construction. At the height of the aerospace industry, we would move huge special containers with satellites.” Spencer said. “We have worked with the moving company many times in the past, and they know our requirements. We are not anticipating any problems.”
LACMA is currently in the planning stage of the move, and the exact route and applications for permits are still being completed. Pflaumer said the final leg of the trip will go west on Wilshire Boulevard and north on Fairfax Avenue. The Los Angeles Department of Transportation, the Bureau of Street Services, the Los Angeles Police Department and possibly other city departments will have to approve permits. Gary Harris, chief of the Investigation and Enforcement Division of the Bureau of Street Services, said the applications had not yet been filed, so he could not comment on exactly what safety measures and permits would be required in the City of Los Angeles.
Spencer said the county would be the lead agency overseeing the move because the boulder will have to travel through many jurisdictions. He said the moving company will be required to post a $1 million insurance policy, and that an inspector will travel with the truck throughout the entire move. The boulder will only be driven on truck routes, which are constructed to withstand heavy loads. The move will also require approval from Caltrans, and a California Highway Patrol escort, Spencer added.
“We are already getting prepared. We are working with LACMA to get the applications together, and it should happen relatively soon,” Spencer said.
Pflaumer said “Levitating Mass” will be a new showpiece for LACMA, and added that the artist has had the idea for the piece for decades. Heizer is known for creating large rock sculptures and “earth art”. His “Double Negative” piece involved a large trench cut into the side of a mesa in the Nevada desert, and other pieces have been created throughout the Mojave Desert and in other countries such as Germany.
Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, 3rd District, said he is fan of Heizer’s work, and is excited to see ”Levitated Mass” come to the museum.
“I think it is going to be a spectacular addition to the LACMA campus,” Yaroslavsky said. “Michael Heizer, whose work this is, is a genius. His work is always massive and thought provoking. It causes us to recognize, in large scale, how each of us as human beings are a small piece of the Earth, but an important piece of the Earth. I think people will come to see it because it is so spectacular, and will really appreciate the size and dimension of it.”
This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.