Levitated Mass: What Next?

Now that the 340-ton megalith has completed its 11-night, 105-mile journey, what happens next? I asked John Bowsher, project manager for Levitated Mass, that very question. “The spectacle’s over,” he said. “Now we make the artwork.”

As difficult as it was to transport the giant boulder from Jurupa Valley to the middle of Los Angeles, that is only the beginning of the process of realizing Michael Heizer’s sculpture. With all elements of the artwork now gathered in one place, Heizer will make the trip from Nevada to Los Angeles to oversee the placement of the boulder atop the 456-foot-long slot already constructed in the earth along the Sixth Street side of LACMA’s campus.

Megalith and slot slated to become part of Michael Heizer’s Levitated Mass, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, © Michael Heizer, photo © 2012 by Museum Associates/LACMA

Or, mostly constructed. In fact about 75 feet of the slot remains to be dug—we had to leave the land flat until the massive transporter rolled onto campus. Once the transporter is disassembled (already under way) and its parts are trucked out, work on completing the slot will begin. (For more on the construction of the slot, see this article on County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky’s website.)

Slot slated to become part of Michael Heizer’s Levitated Mass, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, © Michael Heizer, photo © 2012 by Museum Associates/LACMA

Meanwhile, as the transporter is taken apart, a 700-ton gantry is being assembled to place the megalith atop the slot. The gantry is a steel framework that will be able to lift and lower the boulder as well as move it horizontally (as much as 60 feet). As the gantry positions the boulder, it will be secured by pins to the steel shelves jutting out from the center of the slot. This will secure the boulder to the slot and will safeguard it against seismic activity. Once pinned, Heizer will strategically place steel wedges between the boulder and the shelves.

The final element of the artwork to be completed will be the surrounding 2.5 acre site, comprised of a compressed decomposed granite.

How long will all of this take? A couple of months at least. For the moment we anticipate opening Levitated Mass to the public in late spring or early summer. We will update you with an opening date in the coming weeks.

Scott Tennent

16 Responses to Levitated Mass: What Next?

  1. elizabeth hodsgon says:

    This has been exciting to watch and like you said..now the artwork can begin. I am a transplant from CT and came here around 10 years ago. Was introduced to LACMA by my boyfriend, a life long angeleno, and while I admired the museum…it had that “museumy” feel. What a transformation over the last 10 yrs! Amazing exhibits and art programs for both kids and adults…crrazy modern art and classical art too. Even though our family is down to one income, we still made sure we renewed our patron membership. Such value for the education and beauty. I have finally fallen in love with LA and a huge part of it is LACMA. Thank you for all your effort and hard work!

  2. lacma says:

    Thank you Elizabeth! We’re glad to have you as a member.

  3. Richard Hansard says:

    Hi all looking for a good date to come down to see Levitated Mass, trying to plan a date to take a ill friend any thoughts?

    Thanks,
    Richard
    Sacramento

  4. Karen I. says:

    The surrounding grounds will be covered in compressed decomposed granite? I miss the short-lived Resnick North Lawn. Will there be any grass areas for the public to enjoy?

  5. Gioj says:

    Karen, good question!
    Without expounding the relevance of Land Art in the 21 century, let alone on Museum grounds, will there still be something green to lovingly trample on?

  6. Valerie says:

    Okay, I don’t live anywhere near LA and I love art. But this seems to me an incredible waste of expense to take a rock from nature and move it to a museum so people can look at it. Why not have bus rides to transport people to the location of the rock and get them out of LA? Who funded this project? It seems to me to be yet another example of someone’s illusion that this is art when it is actually highway robbery, in more ways than one. Sorry, I live in a big city too. But this is too ridiculous and demonstrates how detached we have all become from natural beauty around us. Don’t know the artist’s work at all. None of this makes any sense other than alot of internet play to watch a rock on a journey.

  7. N Clifford says:

    Taking the boulder out of context is the point. Comparisons to the Egyptian monuments have been made but I think that the true mother of this project may be Stonehenge. Those rocks weren’t just lying around on site either.

    It could be said that art is about making us relate to the world in a new way. Walking under a 340 ton boulder in a seismic area really should have that effect. This is what I plan to do for my sixtieth birthday. And I will have to travel a couple of thousand miles to do it.

  8. Richard Hansard says:

    I don’t get it, knowing will respon to the question of when Levitaded Mass will be ready for viewing and know one will answer the phone at LACMA, whats the big…

  9. Hamish says:

    Oh dear, who coughed up the cash for this? Too funny.

  10. lacma says:

    Hi Richard – we hope to announce the opening date for Levitated Mass very soon. As soon as it is official we will announce it on the blog and on lacma.org. Thank you!

  11. Aimee says:

    Does anyone know how high above our heads the work will reside? Can someone touch it? Is there any access to the rock above ground? I am interested in this work as a public piece of art – or willit be closed to non-paying folks on the street?

  12. Valerie says:

    @Aimee — We are talking about a mounted rock here. Go hiking outside somewhere and you’ll see something similar that you can touch. Disconnect from technology so you can start enjoying life around you. Public art is everywhere in nature but it doesn’t scream with a label “Look at me! I’m a work of art.” Too often we get wrapped up into what someone else considers art rather than discovering for ourselves what is right in front of our eyes. Start looking, Aimee. You can touch art everything. This rock is not something special now that it has left it’s original nesting place.

  13. lacma says:

    Hi Aimee – you’ll be able to see the rock from all sides, and can get up close to it. When you walk down the slot underneath the rock, it will be 15 feet off the ground.

  14. Elizabeth says:

    opening june 24!

  15. Karen I says:

    Grass is being rolled out today on one section of the grounds. Thank you, LACMA! See you on 6/24.

  16. MR166 says:

    It’s a good thing that LA and California have a lot of excess funds available for projects like this.

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