Levitated Mass: Progress Report

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

44 Responses to Levitated Mass: Progress Report

  1. Catherine Nicolson says:

    Video of some of Michael Heizer’s early work, exhibited in the UK, is at:

  2. Evan Walsh says:

    Where is the Rock? I and friends want to drive out to watch it moving, can you release how the progress goes?

    Thanks, and excited!


  3. lacma says:

    Evan, stay tuned! We will make announcements here and on twitter and facebook as soon as it is ready to move.

  4. brenton says:

    Glad to see this update. I’ve been planning to see it as well and would love to know the route and times of transport. I’ll be following twitter eagerly.

  5. What is the size of the largest ancient moved stone mass?

    Greg Carpenter

  6. Damon says:

    Dear LACMA or whomever is in charge of this Blog. OK…. Seriously, what is going on with this rock? My wife and I, along with our small children live on 6th street behind the museum and have been watching all the remodeling being done at LACMA over the past 8 years. Its been great to see all the new buildings going up and the new entrance being built. We are very proud to be members and love attending whatever event we can. Our only real complaint is finding updates and this installation is no different. Whats going on? Why has the rock not left the quarry? Which city is holding up he works? We are really shocked at the compete lack of information coming from the museum or local news for that matter. Could you please give us some idea of what is happening.

    Thank you,

    The Reiser family

  7. Rocky says:

    How about an update? Would love to know what’s going on with the Rock. Is the move still tangled in negotiations with various municipalities?

  8. Rocky says:


  9. lacma says:

    Hi Rocky and Brenton – progress on the transport is happening, but slowly. We will definitely make an announcement as soon as the transport becomes imminent. Thank you for your interest!

  10. brenton says:

    I had read that it needed to move before the rainy season happened. This is cutting it pretty close–is it looking likely that it won’t move until next Spring, or are hopes still set for this Winter?

  11. Anonymous says:

    Hi Rocky and Brenton

    Are either one of you shocked at the non-response response you got here at the “Progress Report Blog”? If you are looking for some kind of real update you can read the article at the La Times website published November 24. http://articles.latimes.com/2011/nov/24/entertainment/la-et-lacma-rock-20111125
    Even that is written in a kind of “there nothing to see here” kind if way. But heck, you two should be flattered. At least you got a response. I am still waiting for mine.

    The Reiser Family

  12. BJD says:

    Reiser Family, this is a tremendous undertaking and it makes sense that the people moving the rock would encounter complications that are unforeseen. I’m sure they are handling it as quickly and safely as possible. Patience.

  13. brenton says:


    It’s not really a matter of thinking that they’re dragging their feet or being incompetent. I totally understand that this is insanely complicated. I will be astounded if they’re able to accomplish it at all, and I’m already duly impressed with what they’ve accomplished, mapping out a route, etc.

    I’m sure that the people involved talk to their friends, their family, and people on the elevator, saying all sorts of things. That they’re worried about rain, that they’re looking into this one bridge, that the rubber wheels are being re-tested for strength, etc. And yet when we ask for an update on a website, the response is “this is really hard, stop bothering us, we’ll give you an update eventually.”

    Seriously? It took more effort to compose that non-response than to type up a few sentences with actual information.

  14. lacma says:

    Hi Brenton, Reiser Family, and other readers –

    We continue to make progress toward transport every day, and hope to announce very soon that it is moving. We are working with numerous county, city, and state offices in getting all necessary permits and other ducks in a row – it is a complicated and lengthy (and mundane) process. We are as anxious to see the transport happen as anyone! We hope to have a more detailed update after the new year.

    Scott Tennent

  15. Bob says:

    A wet bird never flies at night.

  16. Rocky says:

    Whoops! Los Angeles magazine reports the move happened on schedule back in November.

  17. Kevin Kelleher says:

    So much celebration of an indisputably pointless exercise. Really this is the ultimate stupidification of art.

  18. Paul Doane says:

    This has to the most colossal artistic waste of money on the planet at this time.

  19. Bruce says:

    Artist’s commission + cost of specially quarried gigantic rock + engineering and manufacturing a one-of-a-kind trailer + government expenses + citizen inconvenience = ART. Who would have guessed the LACMA had so much extra cash lying around? The magnitude of this stupidity is bigger than the rock.

  20. lacma says:

    For those looking for a few more details on the state of the transport, check out last night’s KCRW program “Which Way LA,” in which filmmaker Doug Pray was interviewed about the project. (Pray is making a documentary about Levitated Mass.) http://www.kcrw.com/news/programs/ww/ww111228the_politics_and_pro

  21. SimonPure says:

    Wikipedia has a section on the largest rocks ever moved by humans. Numerous rocks larger than this one were moved in the ancient world by Egyptians, Romans, and others:


  22. Keith says:

    I’m with the Reiser fam: eager to follow – if not all of the rock’s route (as I initially intended, by bike – good thing I didn’t b/c the rock never budged!), at least some of it.

    kod, Santa Cruz

    PS: and at the same time, I resonate with K. Kelleher’s comment. It’s interesting how this transport process, the issues surrounding it, and the hype generated, seem to have become an integral part of the artwork itself.

  23. Keith says:

    footnote: This underscores the increasing role played by art institutions, such as Lacma, in shaping the perception of a given work of art and therefore shaping the artwork itself.

  24. Marlène Bélilos : And now, you are doing it here, but you were doing it in the desert. Why?
    Michael Heizer : Hum… because… I’m living in… New York. There’s no land… there. [speaking French]


  25. Richard says:

    wonder how many children could attend art classes in the LAUSD
    for the $25Million this silly project costs? What a lack of perspective and judgement.

  26. I think you should attach giant colorful helium-filled balloons to it as it makes the journey, like in the movie “Up”. How cool would that be? …I mean, it’s an art project, right? Called Levitated Mass, right? Going to a museum and gallery of art, right? This would make it EVEN MORE impressive, whimsical, artistic and fun!!!

  27. It is strange what people figure out about the artwork before it is fully completed… Ok, we e-printed out special maps to make it more comprehensible (and we hope it will be cool for a few!): http://obsart.blogspot.com/2012/01/levitated-mass-2012-maps.html

    We also rearranged the “world press review (2011-2012)” with many articles, including many, many photos: http://obsart.blogspot.com/2012/01/levitated-mass-2012-world-press-review.html

    Enjoy the show to come very soon, dear lucky Los Angelesers!

  28. Susan Klarner says:

    I love art and visiting museums. However, I love children more and agree that $25 million dollars could be better spent on hiring art teachers to promote the painters, sculptors, multi-media artists of the future. – Susan

  29. Keith says:

    Nice pics, OBSART, merci! And to add the discussion on how to best spend $25 mil. we could say that that money, rather than spent on education, could even be better used for providing drinking water to entire city in Somalia. The point is: the ROI of art is (still) not calculable in monetary terms, which is why the art market is one of the most elusive markets there is, despite, yes, its increasing monetization. I say, show me the rock.

  30. Bobby O says:

    I can’t wait to see this amazing piece. L.A. shut up and enjoy this fantastic work of art, when it happens…

  31. Barbara says:

    At least three times a week hubby and I drive over to see if the rock has moved — and so far it has not. However, things are starting to happen. Signs have been put up on the transporter – one saying HANJIIN and the other LACMA. Although I can’t say this for sure, at one point I read that after its first night’s travel it will spend the day in a gravelled yard in Pomona. If I had to make a guess, I’d think it will be somewhere around Mission and Ramona intersection. It will not go during the daylight hours, only after the traffic dies down at night. I intend to be at curbside when it goes by my my residence. Please understand, I do not have any official information. I read a lot, troll the internet and visit the rock often. I personally think this is going to be a real EVENT and don’t want to miss it, even if I have to stay up all night.

  32. Damon says:

    Is it really about the art anymore?

    The debate about “what is art” or “how money should or shouldn’t be used in the pursuit of art” on this or other online posts regarding the “Levitated Mass” installation may be moot. Especially for those of us who live around LACMA and have to look at the construction everyday. I completely understand all the conversations about this subject. Is it just a rock? What does it really represent? Should this kind of money be spent right now? Does it have deeper meaning because of all the problems with moving it? Does it reflect some kind of political stalemate that is happening in the country today. Or is it just some huge piece of granite that can’t be moved and cost a large pile of money? These are all great questions that should be asked. And from a guy that used to own a creative firm and employed several artist I totally get it. And let me be very clear that I am not against this installation. I think the idea is cool and if you can raise the money privately to create such a piece of art I believe you should go for it. I personally would have preferred Jeff Koons “train” but hey, a big rock is cool to. But at what point do we as residence of Los Angeles and neighbors to LACMA say enough is enough, and demand some basic information.

    My wife and I live less than a half block away. Everyday we either walk or drive by what was once a wonderful county park where our small children, no more than nine months ago used to play. Now we see a dirty muddy pit that seems to have no end in site. This makes us truly sad. Not because they are putting a new installation in. We completely support new pieces of art and believe that a museum should be a living, breathing and always changing institution. The only way to keep and maintain a great world class museum is to always be striving for change and be searching for new ideas in the art world. We feel sad because, as neighbors of LACMA, we feel completely forgotten about by the people we want to support. We feel that LACMA forgets that it has neighbors that live near and around the museum and that what the museums does impacts all of us. Now, nothing is perfect. There is no way to please everyone and like the old saying goes about opinions and ass’s, yes everyone does have one. And as for my wife and myself, we are not looking for a personal phone call from Michael Govan informing us of every plan or idea they may have and how they want to proceeding with them. But we do expect to be generally informed of things that impact us and the public at large.

    The simple facts is this. There is no rock at LACMA. You can spin it anyway you want, but at some point someone is going to have to take responsibility for the fact that there is a very very expensive hole in what was a really nice county park. Their going to have to explain why millions of dollars were spent on a custom built and painted transporter that has not moved for months with a huge rock on it. And why all this money was spent before they had worked out all the problems with all the different cities involved. It has been almost 4 months since the rock was supposed to be delivered and there has been no real reason given other then “This is hard”. Someone needs to explain why there is no information going out to the public, what the problems are and where are we in the process of getting said rock delivered. Because the longer this goes on and the less information the people of Los Angeles get the more it looks like this was a problem caused by bad decision making by LACMA’s upper management. If this goes on much longer it is going to become a huge embarrassment to the city of Los Angeles as well as to the mayor. Lets hope that some Republican congressman or senator or even city councilman does not start using this as a way to point out wasteful spending. Because God forbid if that does happen then your going to start seeing reporters from such wonderful channels as Fox news calling city hall demanding to know whats going on. And that would suck for everyone that does love the art world. I do understand that this installation was paid for by private donations and not with city or county funds but it is being managed and controlled by county employees for a county museum. And lets fact it, to the Republican party it wont matter who’s paying for it. If they can make the art world look bad they will.

    So talk to us. We really do want to help.

  33. lacma says:

    To Damon, and to all who have been watching and waiting for news, we thank you for your interest and support. The good news is, there is finally news! The boulder will begin moving on Tuesday, February 28. More info here: https://lacma.wordpress.com/2012/02/24/levitated-mass-the-journey-begins/

  34. Damon says:

    Great news!!!! Thank you!

  35. lacma says:

    If you haven’t seen our latest blog post: we’ve outlined the boulder’s 11-day journey and will be updating this post every morning, in addition to updating our website and providing news on twitter.




  36. Keith says:

    thanks! would love to be there to see it 🙂

  37. gerG says:

    Hello, LACMA, how do i get in touch with the people who are making the documentary on this art piece? I talked to them last night, but i have additional questions…

  38. Keith says:

    Indeed, I should be in my car right now heading down to LA, but it’s such a warm and sunny day here in Santa Cruz and I have laundry to do. Who knows where I’ll be for the final move from Figueroa Street…

    I have one request: could someone kiss the Levitated mAss (has anyone made a joke on that yet?) for me and send me the snapshot (ordinarymind@gmail.com)?Thank you! 🙂

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