Levitated Mass: The Journey Begins

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

31 Responses to Levitated Mass: The Journey Begins

  1. Very good news and thank you so much for your article.

    Your links are really interesting, especially the one about the 350-ton moving of nuclear generator. It reminds in some ways the epic story of City (sculpture) versus Chenobyl-Choo-Choo (nuclear waste), a few years ago. Strange dialectic.

    But what another great dialectic here : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bronze_Horseman between Los Angeles and St Petersburg when seeing the 340-tons transportation (2012) echoing the 1500-tonnes one (1770). Socially, technically, aesthetically, historically, so many things to say…

    All the best

  2. lacma says:

    Yes, isn’t the SoCal Edison story interesting? That article also has an infographic on how the transporter works–pushed and pulled at the same time, multiple axels for turns, etc. It is very similar to the way the megalith’s transporter will function. http://www.ocregister.com/articles/leaves-309727-onofre-san.html

    I’ve read about the St. Petersburg monument and am baffled/astounded at how they managed to do that. It seems impossible!
    Thanks for your continued interest,
    Scott Tennent

  3. Yes Scott,

    We are also baffled/astounded! But according to Alexander Schenker, in his book “The Bronze Horseman: Falconet’s monument to Peter the Great” (Yale University, 2003), the speed of these crazy men was 150 meters per week… Not so bad, huh ? 🙂

    Please have a look to the 1653-ton boulder in its “quarry” (beautiful engraving):

    Very best

  4. Keith says:

    Thanks for the update, Scott. Very interesting analogy that the two heaviest things ever transported in this way are on opposite side of the spectrum in terms of our planet’s evolution. But then there is that bronze horse 🙂 … Raw geology vs. atom science. On wheels.

    I’ve been following these updates a lot. I’m in Santa Cruz and planning to drive down to follow the convoy a few days for a photography and video art project. How would I be able to locate them if I headed down, say, this coming Friday? Cheers,

  5. Betty Mallorca says:

    It is coming by very close to our studio — two blocks? I want to know when it gets there! (Western & Artesia in Gardena) I feel like having a boulder party and cheering it on. Thanks!

  6. Rocky says:

    Hooray! Looking forward to following the move.

    You mention that the rock will “arrive to LACMA.” Is that a British-ism, like “in hospital?” Seems wrong to this American reader.

  7. Michelle D says:

    I was thinking of the 3 obelisks created during the era of ancient Egypt and transported to Paris, London and New York in the 1880s, or well before the era of modern technology. While not as heavy as LACMA’s boulder, they were much taller objects to grapple with.

    The one on the East Coast was in the news a little over a year ago:


    I bring this up as sort of a challenge to, or as a way to keep the faith among, all those working on Michael Heizar’s work. If they ever find themselves wondering “what did we get ourselves into?!—all the sweat, tears and money for a big uncarved object?!!,” keep in mind what was accomplished over 100 years ago. One such example being even rather closely sited near another art museum, the Metropolitan in Central Park.

  8. Reyes, Joseph says:

    Maybe, they should ask for some help from Optimus Prime. For faster transport.

  9. Lee says:

    Wow,,,great idea!!!!!Meanwhile, I know that Mr.Prime is now on vacation with his Autobot friends in Mars.^^
    Anyway, it is fantastic and incredible are project which I’ve ever seen.

  10. Reyes, Joseph says:

    Maybe, there shooting another of
    Transformers movie.

    Wonder where is Megatron.

  11. Anonymous says:

    can’t wait, can’t wait, can’t wait

  12. Anonymous says:

    I was coming from droping off my sister from school and I saw it just now its parked on a lot in the corner of bellegrave and mission ave riverside ca 92509

  13. Shanna says:

    I think this proves our economy is coming back!

  14. Cindy Farr says:

    Rock on! Can’t wait to see it!

  15. JC says:

    Am I the only person that believes this is an absurd waste of time and money and will probably be quite ugly to look at? It’s a big rock, hello!

  16. The “Wrapped Rock” reminds us some of Christo & Jeanne-Claude artworks. Quite amazing. This video is really good: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vCW0suiGZKQ&feature=share&fb_source=message

  17. Kim Glover says:

    I’m with JC!! Who is paying for this? Did someone get a grant that could actually be used to feed and house people? hmmm… Just how does this prove that our economy is improving? I have a rock in my backyard that I’ll let go for the low low price of $200 grand, and all you need to take it is a pick up truck!!! Now, if this artist paid for this out of his own pocket,more power to him, if not.. well,it boggles the mind when there is so much that needs to be done.

  18. Alexis Dragony says:

    Does anyone know of video or information explaining how the boulder was hoisted into the sling on the transport? With cranes, perhaps? I have searched the Internet to no avail.

  19. @Alexis Dragony: you will find the beginning of an answer by watching the very last video, here: http://obsart.blogspot.com/2012/01/levitated-mass-2012-videos.html
    It seems Emmert International didn’t use a crane, but an excavator. It’s not shown in the video but obviously they pushed the rock with the excavator on one side, dragged a small beam underneath and did the same on the other side.
    If you find the information, please do share!

  20. “For what is nature? How can we form a picture of it as it was before the intervention of humans with their ravaging tools? Even the powerful myth of nature is being transformed into a mere fiction,
    a negative utopia: nature is now seen as merely the raw material out of which the productive forces of a variety of social systems have forged their particular paces.” Henri Lefebvre


  21. JC says:
    March 1, 2012 at 9:21 am
    Am I the only person that believes this is an absurd waste of time and money and will probably be quite ugly to look at? It’s a big rock, hello!

    In response,
    I think it is cool! The great builders of Cathedrals could always say I placed that brick. Politics aside I’m sure many people saw such breath taking vaults as a waste too. Who am I to say though I’m just a stone chipper.

  22. Alexis Dragony says:

    Randy, thank you for pointing me to that video–interesting that they would not use a crane. I viewed the rock Saturday at its stop in Rowland Heights and the chatter was that even one crane could have lifted the thing. And how then to wrap the plastic all around it? The rock appears smaller to me than I anticipated.

  23. Anonymous says:

    what makes the rock art?

  24. Charlie Groh says:

    …I got a decent shot of the thing at the Carmenita overpass last nite…how do I share?

  25. Tim S says:

    Do you have pictures and/or video of the transporter being built around the rock? That would be awesome to see also.

  26. I saw the rock passing by just in front of my house today in Lakewood, CA on South St at around 11 PM. Huge Huge rig and a lot of manpower and resources…. let’s see if it’s worth the money invested.. !!

  27. Charlie Groh says:

    …OK, in lieu of a way to put up shots in this forum, I created a blog post here:


    …gonna try to get to the final destination Saturday!

  28. J Wolf says:

    What an incredible waste of money. Silly people congratulating themselves on watch real workings moving a big Rock. Where is reality?? This so called artist has NO clothes. Overrated and out of touch.

  29. Anonymous says:

    Meanwhile, China constructs a 30 story green building in 15 days. Are we sure this Banksy isn’t bankrolling this?

  30. […] last year, LACMA’s relocation of Michael Heizer’s Levitated Mass went on the road for a little under two weeks. The work, […]

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