Behind the Scenes: The Moving of a Sculpture

John Scott’s Thornbush Blues Totem

Thornbush Blues Totem by John Scott will be featured in our upcoming exhibition, African American Art: Harlem Renaissance, Civil Rights Era, and Beyond. In preparation, museum conservators and art handlers moved the eight-foot tall sculpture up to the conservation labs for examination and treatment. Staffer Mary Tait described the experience:

My expectations for this move were preceded only by my few experiences of moving furniture, particularly of moving a couch. Usually my friends and I just “grab and go” and hope it will fit through the door. If it accidentally bumps the door jam and tears a bit of fabric, then “oh well”. But this was much more elaborate than an average apartment-to-apartment move.

The path for the sculpture was scoped out by the conservators and art handlers. Temporary doors and objects were moved out of the way ahead of time. Braces, blankets, and pads were all at the ready and seemed to appear out of nowhere as needed. During the move, the sculpture was carefully set down on the custom-made brace so that plans of action could be discussed on the spot, and the art handlers could reposition themselves for the next lift. Even though the path was thoroughly planned, careful adjustments and monitoring were crucial during the entire process. Because, unlike my couch, we cannot afford any dings or chips on our cultural artifacts.

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