Levitated Mass Opens Sunday

June 21, 2012

Way back in the twentieth century—1969, to be precise—Michael Heizer had the idea for an artwork he’d call Levitated Mass. It would be a massive rock perched atop a long slot in the earth. He even got so far as to start creating the artwork in the Nevada desert: he had a 120-ton rock and he dug out the slot. Unfortunately, one of two cranes he was using to mount the rock buckled under the weight, and the project was not completed.

Michael Heizer, sketch for Levitated Mass, 2011, © Michael Heizer

Here we are more than four decades later, and Levitated Mass is complete. The rock is a little heavier (340 tons), the slot is a little longer (456 feet), and the site is a little more accessible (right in the middle of Los Angeles). Also, a few more people know all about it: back in March you couldn’t change the channel or open your local paper without hitting upon the story of the transport of the boulder from Jurupa Valley to LACMA. Thousands of people came out every single day and night to see this boulder move across Southern California to its destination at the museum. And now we’re inviting all of those people—and everyone else, too!—to come see Levitated Mass as it officially opens to the public this Sunday.

We will be holding a public dedication ceremony at 11 am on Sunday. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa will join Terry Semel, chair of LACMA’s board of trustees, and LACMA CEO and Wallis Annenberg Director Michael Govan in the official opening of the artwork, after which everyone is invited to walk through the slot, under the rock, and out the other side.

The ceremony is free to attend, as is the experience of Levitated Mass (whether you come for the dedication or arrive later in the day). If you’re coming with family, enjoy our free Andell Family Sunday activities while you’re here. We’ll also be tweeting from the ceremony and throughout the day, so follow us (or talk back to us!) on Twitter, hashtag #LevitatedMass.

As a special bonus for those who live in the communities through which the boulder passed on its journey, we are also offering free admission to the rest of our galleries. If your zip code is on this list, simply show proof of residence (a driver’s license will do) at our box office and you’ll be on your way to explore the collection. Can’t make it on Sunday? That offer is good all the way through July 1.

(And one more tip, for everyone, while we’re at it: have you heard about our Summer Pass? Buy a general admission ticket anytime between now and June 30 and you automatically get three free months of membership benefits. That’s free admission any time, discounts in our stores and on tickets for films and concerts, and more. More details here.)

In any case, Levitated Mass never requires museum admission, whenever you decide to visit, as is the case for our other outdoor sculptures like Chris Burden’s Urban Light. See it this week, see it next week, see it all summer, see it next year, see it in 2022… you get the idea. Levitated Mass isn’t going anywhere. 40+ years after Michael Heizer conceived of the idea, Levitated Mass is finally here to stay.

Scott Tennent


Michael Heizer’s Levitated Mass Opens June 24

May 22, 2012

Last March you watched as a 340-ton boulder was transported from Riverside County to LACMA. Ever since its arrival, the question we’ve gotten the most around here has been “when can we see Michael Heizer’s  finished artwork?” Well, we’ve got an answer for you: on Sunday, June 24, LACMA will officially open  Levitated Mass to the public. Finally, you will be able to walk through the long concrete slot—one-and-a-half-football-fields long—descending 15 feet as the giant granite megalith rises over your head.

Megalith slated to become part of Michael Heizer’s “Levitated Mass,” arriving to LACMA on March 10. Photo by Tom Vinetz, © Michael Heizer

As a special thank-you to the many communities through which the megalith traveled on its historic journey, LACMA is offering free admission to residents of select zip codes from along the route for the entire week of June 24–July 1. With proof of residence, such as a driver’s license, members of these communities will be granted free admission to LACMA’s galleries. Check this list to see if your neighborhood was on the route.

So, mark your calendars! The countdown begins.

Scott Tennent


Levitated Mass: What Next?

March 15, 2012

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


Levitated Mass: Planning for the Final Leg of the Journey

March 8, 2012

For those of you following the journey of the megalith that is to be part of Michael Heizer’s Levitated Mass, Friday night is the moment you’ve been waiting for. Starting around 10–11 pm, the transporter will leave its last stop—on Figueroa Street just north of Florence Avenue—and will travel its final leg to LACMA.

Megalith slated to become part of Michael Heizer’s Levitated Mass, during transport to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, © Michael Heizer, photo by Tom Vinetz

The transporter will travel north on Figueroa, going right past Exposition Park and the USC campus. It will turn left onto West Adams Boulevard and will cross Hoover, Vermont, and Normandie before turning right onto Western Avenue. From Western it will hang a left on Wilshire for the home stretch! (See the entire route the transporter has traveled.)

The big question, of course, is when all of this will happen. Unfortunately we can’t be very specific as the journey itself is complicated and it’s impossible to say how quickly or slowly the transporter will make each turn, get through each intersection, etc. For now, we are estimating that the transporter will arrive at the museum between 2–6 am.

The best way to keep tabs on the transporter’s whereabouts will be to follow @LACMA on Twitter. We will be in the truck, traveling the whole route with the boulder and keeping you up to date all night long. If you’re out there tweeting too, use hashtag #LevitatedMass so we can see what you’re saying and retweet to our audience. No matter where you are along the route, you’ll know when to expect the boulder to go by if you follow our Twitter updates.

You’ll have opportunities all along the route to see the transporter go by. Road closures along the route will occur as it moves, so plan accordingly. Our best advice is to travel on streets parallel to the transporter in order to drive unimpeded.

If you want to see it actually arrive at LACMA, here’s some more helpful info:

  • The museum itself will be closed, but the action is on Wilshire Boulevard.
  • Parking will be available in LACMA’s lot at the corner of Wilshire and Spaulding Avenue (free). Our underground Sixth Street lot will be closed.
  • Parking at the Petersen Museum, located on Wilshire and Fairfax, will also be available ($10, enter from Fairfax). You can try to find street parking too, but please read all signs in the area before parking.
  • There will be bathrooms available at Ogden and Wilshire, directly across the street from Urban Light.
  • Note that Stark Bar will be open regular hours—closing at 11 pm. We will have a coffee cart next to Urban Light starting at 11 pm.
  • Food trucks will be parked at Ogden and Wilshire—No Tomatoes and Waffles de Liege.

When the transporter finally gets to the museum, it will turn from Wilshire onto Fairfax and then enter the museum from behind LACMA West. It will pull up right next to the slot that is the other major component of the work. For Saturday and Sunday only, we’ll remove part of the construction fencing so you can get a good look at the transporter before it is disassembled. Starting Monday, everything goes under wraps—as much as you can put a 340-ton boulder under wraps. The next time you’ll get a chance to see it up close, it will be a finished artwork. As of now we are expecting to open Levitated Mass to the public in the early summer. Keep your eyes on Unframed or the Levitated Mass page for updates on an opening date.

Scott Tennent


Levitated Mass Transport: A Gawker’s Guide [Updated Friday, March 9]

February 28, 2012

We know you might want to see the megalith destined to be part of Michael Heizer’s Levitated Mass as it makes its journey through L.A., so we want to give you an overview of your chances. As mentioned previously, the actual transport (made possible by Hanjin Shipping) starts tonight and will only occur in the middle of the night—and slowly at that. During each day it will be parked in specially identified areas. (You can see the overall route map here, and Google street views in the links below.) These daytime stops will be your best and most convenient opportunities to see the boulder during this historic movement. With that in mind, here is a detailed breakdown of its stops, plus a few tips and recommendations for each location. (Some are more convenient than others.) As an FYI, none of these stops will result in daytime street closures, though in some cases there will only be one lane of traffic open in either direction.

Day or night, if you see the boulder during its journey, let us know! Post your pics to Facebook or Twitter and tag us (Twitter hashtag: #LevitatedMass). Check back to this blog post each day as we update its movement. We will also be updating news of the transport daily on the Levitated Mass page and on Twitter.

Megalith slated to become part of Michael Heizer’s Levitated Mass, prepared for transport to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 2012, © 2012 Michael Heizer, photo by Tom Vinetz

Wednesday, February 29: Following its initial departure from the quarry tonight, the boulder will travel about seven miles to the intersection of Mission Boulevard and Bellegrave Avenue in Glen Avon.

Tip for gawkers: The transporter will be parked on private property, though the area is fairly wide open.

Update, February 29, 8:27 am: Last night at about 10:40 pm, the transporter carrying the 340-ton megalith left the quarry in Riverside County. All went well on the first leg of the journey, which saw the transporter travel approximately five miles in four and a half hours. Nearly half of that time was spent making a sharp turn from Granite Hill Drive onto Country Village Road. As of now the transporter is parked at its planned first stop. The second leg of the journey will begin tonight and will take the boulder approximately ten miles to its second stop. Check out this video showing the transporter leaving the quarry!

Thursday, March 1: The boulder will arrive at its second stop near the southwest corner of Ontario Airport, at the intersection of Mission Boulevard and Grove Avenue. The transporter will be parked on private property—it will be easy to see, and traffic won’t be affected.

Tip for gawkers: The area is fairly desolate outside of an Arco gas station across the street and a couple of nearby aviation companies.

Update, Thursday, March 1, 6:17 am: Everything went very smoothly on the transporter’s second night. The transporter moved at a good clip, covering about eight miles. The boulder safely arrived at Mission Boulevard and Grove Avenue, near the edge of the Ontario Airport, at 4:15 am this morning.

Friday, March 2: You’ll find the transporter parked on Chino Avenue at Chino Hills Parkway in Diamond Bar. (Note: see update below!)

Tip for gawkers: These are both wide streets with fast-moving traffic and no parking. At best you can drive by, but it will be difficult to stop and look, or to get out of your car for a photo op.

Update, Friday, March 2, 7:34 am: The transporter traveled ten miles last night and is now parked near the Park and Ride on Chino Avenue near the 71 freeway. This is two miles short of the originally planned stop of Chino Avenue and Chino Hills Parkway. Emmert International, which is managing the transport, deemed this to be the safest, least disruptive stop. The transporter will remain here for the day until it resumes its journey tonight around 10-11 pm. It should make up those miles tonight and reach its next planned destination in Rowland Heights without disrupting the overall transportation schedule. Update, 9:37 am: Please be warned: today’s stop is not convenient for stopping and looking at the boulder. There is no nearby parking, and the street is very busy. We encourage you to see the boulder at its next stop in Rowland Heights, where it will be located all weekend.

Saturday/Sunday, March 3-4: All weekend the transporter will be parked on Pathfinder Road in Rowland Heights, near Fullerton Road. (To get here, take the 60 to the Fullerton Road exit and travel south to Pathfinder.)

UPDATE, Saturday, March 3, 9:45 am: The transporter successfully completed the most challenging part of the journey early this morning. CHP and local municipalities allowed extended drive time, and the transporter has now reached its destination at Pathfinder Road and Buttonwood Lane near Fullerton Road in Rowland Heights. It will remain there throughout the weekend.

Tip for gawkers: Make a day of it! The rock will be parked just across the street from Pathfinder Community Regional Park, which has tables, lots of grass, a play area, bathrooms, basketball and tennis courts, and more. Bring a picnic. Schabarum Regional Park is also nearby—a great place for hiking or biking. There’s also a lot of great cuisine in Rowland Heights. “Yes Plaza,” at the nearby intersection of Fullerton and Colima, is filled with sushi, Thai, tempura, and much more. You can also search Chowhound for more Rowland Heights recommendations.

Monday, March 5: You’ll find the rock on Leffingwell Road, just west of La Mirada Boulevard in the city of La Mirada, south of Whittier.

Tip for gawkers: If you’re using mass transit, the 120 bus will make a stop right next to the transporter. There is parking in nearby residential areas for a quick hop out of the car for a photo op. Leffingwell is a large, busy street with not a lot of foot traffic.

Update, Monday, March 5, 6:30 am: The transporter traveled approximately eleven miles last night from Rowland Heights to La Mirada, spending most of its journey on Colima Road. Early this morning it safely reached its next stop on Leffingwell Road, just west of La Mirada Boulevard. It will leave for the next leg of its journey at approximately 10–11 pm tonight.

Tuesday, March 6: The transporter pulls into the city of Lakewood, near Cerritos, on South Street at Palo Verde Avenue.

Tips for gawkers: There are strip malls on either side of the street with ample parking and a few fast food places to eat (and more food options at the nearby intersection of South Street and Woodruff Avenue).

Update, Tuesday, March 6, 6:10 am: The transporter departed La Mirada at approximately 10 pm last night and traveled nearly twelve miles to its next intended stop, South Street near Palo Verde Avenue in Lakewood, arriving at 4:30 am. It will leave for the next leg of its journey tonight around 10–11 pm.

Wednesday, March 7: The rock will spend the day in Bixby Knolls, a strip of small restaurants and other businesses in Long Beach. The transporter will be parked on Atlantic Avenue between 36th and 37th Streets.

Tip for gawkers: If you live in the Long Beach area, this is probably your best chance to see the transporter. If you’re coming around lunch or dinner, try Patricia’s Restaurant! It’ll have prime viewing of the rock, and the Mexican food is affordable and delicious. Of all the weekday stops, Bixby Knolls is the most densely populated, meaning there are a few more lunch or dinner options and other nearby things to do beyond a quick drive-by. For instance, continue south on Atlantic for about fifteen minutes and you’ll run into the Aquarium of the Pacific. [Update: the town of Bixby Knolls is getting into the spirit and throwing a Rock Party from 12-7 pm! More details here.]

Update, Wednesday, March 7, 6:12 am: The transporter had a short and uneventful journey last night, leaving the city of Lakewood at 10 pm and arriving to its intended destination of Bixby Knolls just three hours later. The megalith will be parked on Atlantic Avenue between 36th and 37th streets until approximately 10-11 pm, when it will leave for its next destination of Vermont Avenue and Carson Street. For information on the “Rock Party” in Bixby Knolls today from 12–7 pm, click here.

Thursday, March 8: After touring Long Beach in the middle of the night, the transporter will come to rest at Vermont Avenue just north of Carson Street, in the city of Carson (not far from UCLA Harbor Medical Center). (Note: see update below.)

Tip for gawkers: This stretch of Vermont will not be especially conducive to stopping, but there are residential streets nearby.

Update, Thursday, March 8, 7:03 am: Due to tight clearances along Atlantic Avenue, the transporter stopped three miles short of its intended destination. It is parked on Avalon Boulevard at Pacific Street, near Sepulveda Boulevard. It will depart tonight at approximately 10–11 pm with the intention of reaching its next planned stop at Figueroa Street, just north of Florence Avenue.

Update, 4:15 pm: The transporter will be leaving earlier than usual tonight, with an expected departure of approximately 8 pm.

Friday, March 9: From Carson the transporter will make its way to Western Avenue, for a more or less straight shot north, eventually parking itself at Figueroa Street, north of Florence Avenue, between 63rd and 65th Streets.

Tip for gawkers: If you live near USC this is a good chance to drive past the transporter and get a look at the rock. Its parking spot is just a few blocks south of Exposition Park, so you could also fit in a visit to the Natural History Museum, California African American Museum, or the California Science Center. This is a busy street lined mostly with houses and a couple of auto shops.

Update, Friday, March 9, 6:15 am: After an early start last night at about 8 pm, the transport made up the distance it lost from the night before. It covered just over sixteen miles, landing at its intended destination of Gage Avenue and Figueroa  (just north of Florence Avenue) around 2:30 am. Tonight it makes its way to LACMA for the last leg of the nearly 105 mile journey. Learn more about what to expect for the final leg of the journey.

Finally, on Friday night the megalith will make its final leg of the journey, traveling up Figueroa (right past Exposition Park and USC), turning onto West Adams, then up Western, before turning onto Wilshire Boulevard and proceeding to its final destination at LACMA (and it is final—you better believe no one is moving this thing again!). This relatively short distance will take most of the night, starting at 11 pm and tentatively arriving to the museum around 4 am. We will be tweeting the Wilshire Boulevard journey if you happen to be awake!

Scott Tennent


Levitated Mass: The Journey Begins

February 24, 2012

Finally, after much delay, we are happy to announce that the 340-ton megalith that is to be part of Michael Heizer’s Levitated Mass will begin its journey to LACMA. (Our thanks go to Hanjin Shipping for generously sponsoring the transportation.) It will start moving this Tuesday, February 28, and will arrive to LACMA (very) early in the morning on Saturday, March 10.

Megalith slated to become part of Michael Heizer’s Levitated Mass, prepared for transport to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 2012, © 2012 Michael Heizer, photo by Tom Vinetz

The quarry where the boulder currently resides is in Jurupa Valley, in Riverside County—about 105 miles away if you take I-10. The transporter won’t be taking the freeway, however. After months of research, engineering studies, and collaboration with officials in four counties and twenty-two cities, engineers at Emmert International have established a fairly circuitous route that avoids overpasses and any streets or bridges deemed too weak to support the transporter and cargo. You can see the full route here.

The transport will take eleven nights all together, with movement happening only at night—traveling about 8 miles per hour roughly between the hours of 11 pm and 5 am each night. We will be providing updates at lacma.org/levitatedmass as it moves. If you see it pass through your neighborhood, take a picture! Upload it to Facebook and tag us, or post on Twitter (hashtag: #LevitatedMass).

(By the way, while this is possibly the largest megalithic stone moved since ancient times, this is not the first time heavy transport has occurred in Southern California. Just last year Southern California Edison shipped a 350-ton steam generator from the San Onofre nuclear plant to a nuclear-waste disposal site in Utah. A similar transporter was used—400 feet long!—traveling slowly  at night over the course of nineteen days, without incident.)

Megalith slated to become part of Michael Heizer’s Levitated Mass, prepared for transport to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 2012 (detail), © 2012 Michael Heizer, photo by Tom Vinetz

We realize that most of you will not be awake at night to watch the megalith pass by, or perhaps you don’t live within its path. In the event you might want to check it out for yourself, next week we’ll give you a detailed rundown on each of its daily stops.

Once the megalith arrives to LACMA, we will spend the next few weeks installing it over the 456-foot-long slot behind the Resnick Pavilion. The artwork will be ready for public viewing in the late spring/early summer. Stay tuned for further announcements.

Scott Tennent


Levitated Mass: Progress Report

October 17, 2011

As you may have surmised from past blog posts or any of the news items already written about Levitated Mass, installing Michael Heizer’s latest artwork is not quite the same as purchasing a painting, shipping it to the museum, and hanging it on the wall. In fact it feels a lot closer to making a building, what with all the construction workers employed both onsite at LACMA, digging the 456-foot-long slot in the earth north of the Resnick Pavilion, and the team from Emmert International building the transporter for the 340-ton megalith currently resting in a Riverside quarry. Just to give you an idea of how complex the project is and how many people are involved in making it happen, check out this video documenting recent progress at the quarry site.

The transportation of the megalith, made possible by Hanjin Shipping Co., Ltd., will happen almost entirely in the small hours of the night over many days. The boulder is scheduled to start moving… well, soon. Once it begins, we’ll be tracking it on the Levitated Mass webpage as well as offering daily updates on Twitter so stay tuned for news of its movement.

Scott Tennent


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