How do you get a ½ inch thick sheet of Cor-Ten steel measuring 96 x 60 inches, weighing 1300 pounds into the museum and flush against the wall? Very carefully!
This summer the museum is embarking on a very ambitious alumni exhibition, Starting Here: A Selection of Distinguished Artists from UCSB, which includes the work of 48 artists who attended UCSB from 1950–2010. And what UCSB art exhibition highlighting alums would be complete without a Richard Serra?
As museum registrar, it is my dictate to complete all shipping arrangements for loans coming in and out of the museum. I know I sound like the UPS man, but it is ALL ABOUT THE LOGISTICS. This Cor-Ten steel sculpture by Serra, labled Untitled, was being stored for the Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles at US Art, a fine art shipping and storage company. I knew their Head Rigger (someone who has expertise at moving and transporting heavy works) was once employed by the lender (MOCA) and fortunately for us he had actually installed the artwork before.
US Art designed an “A” frame pallet, which would transport and serve as an installation structure for Untitled. However, I was then faced with two challenges: (1) getting the pallet off the truck and into the museum and (2) moving it safely over the hardwood floors and into the gallery for installation.
The initial base size of the pallet measured 72 inches, which made bringing it thru the front impossible given the divided doorways. The back entrance would have to do. But with the doors fully extended clearance was 65 inches at the bottom and 63 ½ inches at the center, due to the placement of the door handles. However, the beauty of an “A” frame is that it is smaller at the top than at the bottom. US Art was able to reduce the base size to 63 inches while still keeping the steel supported during its transport and installation. One headache solved!
My second concern was getting the work over the museum’s hardwood floors. Although we had contacted Facilities Management about the load capacity, no one would commit to more than 100 pounds per square foot. In talking with the Head Rigger, Bryan, he assured me that it would be OK as he reported driving 500 pound fork lifts over the hardwood floors at MOCA “all the time.” As a preventive measure, ½ inch plywood was positioned on the floor to help absorb and distribute the weight.
Using a fork lift driven by UCSB Furniture Services, Untitled made it safely off the truck, thru the back doors and into position. The “A” frame structure was then used to tilt and place the sculpture against the wall with the help of seven strong guys. Bryan then secured the sheet onto the wall with long screws across the top.
And the rest they say is history…opening reception is May 16th and Untitled, among other works, will be on view thru August 10th.