Yesterday we told you that Hello Girls, LACMA’s sculpture by Alexander Calder, is back up and running again thanks to recent repairs. After paging through what seemed like a phone book-sized packet of conservation reports, it became clear that it’s been difficult to keep the sculpture in working order since its original installation in 1965, largely due to complications with the water circulation system. When Head Objects Conservator John Hirx began the overhaul of the feature five years ago, he went to Las Vegas to look at the Bellagio; if the desert hotel can maintain a huge lagoon with hundreds of thousands of gallons of water, he presumed there must be a way to solve the seemingly endless Hello Girls challenges. Ultimately John hired a team of designers who came from the company that worked on the Bellagio project, and they rebuilt the feature that is seen today. (The same crew also developed the Grove’s well-known water feature.) The solution was a pool with less water (8,000 gallons vs. 24,000 gallons) and a much stronger pump.
Now that one water issue has been resolved, John and his colleagues are tackling another—they’re investigating the best paint solution for the paddles, or “leaves,” shown above. Requirements? Must withstand UV radiation, hot and cold cycles, abrasive particles in the wind, and the constant pounding of water. No problem, right? We’ll keep you posted on that one.