LACMA Boulder to Start 100-Mile Roll to L.A.
A 340-ton boulder that will go on display at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art will start the slow, painstakingly calculated journey today from a Riverside-area rock quarry to the museum on Wilshire Boulevard’s Miracle Mile.
The 21 1/2-foot-tall granite megalith will meander in the dark of night at around eight miles per hour through four counties and 22 cities. It will then become part of the permanent exhibit “Levitated Mass,” artist Michael Heizer’s designed grand entrance to the LACMA complex.
Visitors will pass under the huge boulder through a 456-foot slot carved under the rock on the museum’s north side.
Museum officials hope to have the exhibit open by late spring or early summer.
The rock’s trip is scheduled to begin at the Stone Valley Materials quarry on Pyrite Street northwest of Rubidoux late tonight and end at LACMA early on March 10. It will only be moved during late night and early morning hours.
The most direct route — west on the Pomona (60) and Santa Monica (10) freeways — was not possible due to the rock’s height and freeway bridges that cannot stand the strain, officials said.
Instead, the 11-night, 105-mile journey will detour on surface streets. Traffic signals will have to be disassembled, power lines will have to be cut, and ramps built across medians before the giant rock mover can pass. Then everything will have to be reassembled before morning commuters hit the streets.
Emmert International, which specializes in moving extremely large or sensitive objects, like nuclear generators and missiles, will move the boulder on a so-called transporter that is about 200 feet long and three-freeway lanes wide. The Chinese company Hanjin Shipping Co. is covering much of the cost of the trip. Private donors also helped fund the artwork.
LACMA Communications Director Miranda Carroll declined to disclose the cost of the project.
The museum was set to move the rock last fall, but it was determined that one of the bridges on the route was not up to code, prompting engineers to come up with a new way to reach the museum. That required reapplying for the necessary permits from all the relevant jurisdictions, leading to a delay, Carroll said.
Maps call for the rock to head west on Van Buren/Mission boulevards through Chino and wind around in Hacienda Heights before veering south on Colima Road into Whittier. The route goes through La Mirada, Cerritos and briefly into Orange County before the megalith finally heads west across the San Gabriel River bridge at Del Amo Boulevard.
After heading north to South Street, the rock will cross west across Lakewood and then zig-zag south and west all the way to Ocean Boulevard in Long Beach. Then, it will cross the Los Angeles River via Pacific Coast Highway and head north via Western Avenue and Figueroa Street.
In all, it will be transported through Riverside, San Bernardino, Orange and Los Angeles counties and 22 cities, according to Carroll. The precise map can be viewed at www.lacma.org/levitated-mass-map.
Heizer first came up with the idea for the artwork in 1968 but did not find an appropriate boulder until 2007, when the rock was quarried. The artist had worked with the quarry before for previous artworks.
“He definitely wanted something from that quarry, because it’s California granite,” Carroll said. “It will probably be here way longer than any of us.”
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