Two sculptures in Anish Kapoor’s solo show at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA), Untitled and Oracle, have a combined weight of 9.7 tonnes. The MCA’s exhibitions services manager Tony Mighell engaged specialist lift technicians and a trolley engineer to get the works up to the gallery floor in the trolley and through the gallery to one of the only spaces in the museum where supporting beams overlapped that could take the weight of the works. Once all the calculations were done the lift technicians were unwilling to risk the works in the MCA goods lift and the trolley engineers simply said “no way”.
Tony Mighell and the MCA’s Chief Operating Officer Euan Upston began to work on alternate solutions and stuck on a novel idea. After the gallery skylight was removed, a hole was cut into the roof of the gallery above the space Untitled and Oracle would be positioned. A plan was hatched to crane works through the roof, right onto the gallery floor. In the process, the team designed a removable section of roof and a modular internal system for easy future removal. As Tony says, “this made the process, although costly, extremely worthwhile”.
I thought that was such a crazy/excellent idea that I had to capture it on film. We grabbed a couple of GoPro cameras and Cannon 7D Mk II and waited until midnight. The MCA organised a massive crane and diverted traffic on one of the busiest roads in Sydney’s CBD. The whole process was delayed 2 hours by an unmarked police car that had been left in the way, as the local police couldn’t find the police person who had left it there. In the end it had to be towed so the crane could fit in.
I put one GoPro in the gallery and attempted to attached the other to the head of the crane. I was a little worried the crane operator would stop me, but as soon as he saw it he said “Is that a GoPro? They’re awesome. Let’s strap it to the crane”. Thanks to a bit of gaffa tape we were ready to film.
Here’s the result:
This video was one of the MCA’s most popular posts about Anish Kapoor’s exhibition.
See the moment two of Anish Kapoor's works get lifted by crane from George St, through our roof & into the L3 Galleries http://t.co/FqQTKO6G
— MCA Australia (@MCA_Australia) December 9, 2012
And according to Museum Analytics it was the most engaging piece of twitter content from any museum in Australia that week.
If you ask me, the best thing about working in an art museum is the great stories you get to tell.