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Our Renovation and Expansion Update Blog

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Aug. 28, 2013

Ideas Weren't the Only Thing Flying Today

While the brain trust huddled to plan second-floor galleries, while exterior windows were prepped for installation, while form work got underway for front-door accessibility ramps, and while the biggest number of workers in some time were on site, we start with the bustle in the new glass galleries. To find a picture, you had to look up—there were 16 ladders and seven mini-scaffolds in use in this area alone.

Elsewhere things were flying. There were sparks, shown above, from the final cut for a rooftop duct detour, dust from a concrete haircut, and flashes from the welding of a new stair railing. And when it came to the fellow sanding the base layer of the big stucco wall on the south addition, his work reminded us of snow.

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Aug. 27, 2013

Work Inside, Outside, and on Top Generates a Steadily Growing Sense of Progress

On a sunny day with a lot going on, the most visible change was the installation of roof trusses on the Memorial Garden porch. As soon as one went in, another quickly followed. Around the corner from the truss team, stucco application continued on the end of the new south addition.

Upstairs inside the mechanical towers, it seems as though something is dismantled every day. Sometimes you can tell what's been going on by what gets left behind.

And finally, an example of the flexibility needed in a project of this type. Turns out the easiest away around an unexpected obstruction was to take a duct detour through the roof (note the red lines on the limestone). The ductwork will be covered in a rooftop mini-addition once it's finished.

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Aug. 26, 2013

On a Scaffolding-Free Day, a Look at the Faces in the Crowd

For the first time in 153 days, there is no scaffolding around the outside of our building. Shown above, the outside corner of the new north addition is framed by a cloudless sky.

Inside on Monday, a question arose from the crew. How do y'all pick the pictures that get used? Turns out, the first cut is always made on technical grounds. The lighting is dim in a lot of these workspaces and a lot of frames go unseen because they are too dark or too blurry because of a slow shutter speed.

After that, the reasons vary. Sometimes it's not the worker but the overall setting. Sometimes it's a matter of trying to get really close to the action, while at other times it's all in the expression. Sometimes it's as simple as somebody happened to be looking out a window. And every now and then, what starts out as a snapshot winds up feeling like a portrait.

Aug. 22, 2013

Up on the Roof, a Limestone Milestone

Shown at right, the installation of a final touch on our new south addition—the final top trim. As soon as the first piece of limestone cornice was in place, up came another. The same sort of thing was happening on the new roof for the porch right below. Soon after the front beam was installed, along came workers to weld joints and add support plates.

Elsewhere around the building, when it came to new subfloor installation, some cuts were trickier than others. In the Ancient Worlds galleries, skill means not requiring a table saw for a long rip cut, and in the glass galleries, well, we hope they found what they were looking for. And when it comes to taping the new drywall going up, sometimes you just have to whip it. Whip it good.

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Aug. 21, 2013

Framed by his Favorite Case Frame

Shown above, an Explus contractor is installing his favorite case in the entire project—a double glass case that allows for the viewing of both the objects inside and the large Egyptian artifacts seen in the background. Well, seen in the background under their protective plywood cases.

Inside on Wednesday, a major effort got underway to glue and screw new subflooring throughout multiple second-floor galleries. The selection of gallery carpets and wall colors had been finalized the day before. Toward the end of the day, on the outside, it was time to start dismantling the scaffolding on the north addition. By quitting time, when resting and taking that last look of appraisal, it was clear there was still plenty of work left to do.

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Aug. 20, 2013

Before the Update, An Appreciation

Before we get to the construction update, a special note on a goodbye lunch for a colleague. At a museum as leanly staffed as ours, versatility and an upbeat attitude are crucial, and Hilda, shown above, displayed plenty of both. The educator, gallery host and photographer is following her husband to his new job, so here's a big thumbs-up on her journey.

Around the building Tuesday, in the new glass galleries the intricate interplay continued between new cases, walls and ceilings, and the limestone crew continued its assault on the highest, most-hard to reach area of the building. On the new exteriors, what's not covered in limestone will be covered in stucco, and that process is now underway. It's a modern-day update of the ages-old way of stuccoing (scratch coat, mesh, brown coat, finish) and it started with a surprisingly pretty pale blue sealant. And finally, in terms of our daily search for accidental art, we're not even sure exactly what this is.

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Aug. 19, 2013

A Tough, Tricky Job Made to Look Easy

A tip of the hat to the limestone-cladding crew, shown above, as they neared the final top pieces on the north addition. The crane used to lift this multi-hundred-pound stone was pretty much at full elevation and full extension, shooting a narrow gap between the building and the scaffolding to reach the next-to-last farthest point away. Extraordinary work made to look routine, and we thank them or it.

Elsewhere on this cloudy Monday, installation of ceiling frames progressed in our expanded glass galleries, and with last week's move of heavy artifacts for our new Egyptian room all complete, Monday they were placed in protective cases so construction can resume around them. Two floors above, an electrician was asked if new wiring was measured in miles yet. Actually, he replied it's now in the hundreds of miles. "Every box here is 1,000 feet," he said, "and they'll all be empty tomorrow." And to close the day with our routine search for accidental art, we offer these stubs from an ornamental iron fence.

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Aug. 16, 2013

Putting Our Ducts in a Row

We start with progress on a new gallery in the south addition. Insulation is going up on the outside walls, and shown above, work has begun on the HVAC installation.

On Fridays, we like to thank all the people who have been working on our behalf. So to close out the week, we offer a picture we had to get in, and we do indeed thank everyone on the crew. But we also offer a special thanks to Stihl. The company has been a good friend of the Museum for a long time, and we appreciate that, but today's special shout-out is simply about their saws. It's just a marvel every time they rip through solid rock.

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Aug. 14, 2013

Moving Day in What Will be our New Egyptian Gallery

Shown above, a forklift comes in handy on a day when heavy items must be moved into our newly redesigned Ancient Egypt area. In the left side of the picture, that big stone kitty cat weighed about 900 pounds. For the record, it's a diorite sculpture of Sekhmet, the deadly handmaiden of the sun god Re, and it dates to 1390-1353 B.C.E. Also moved today was a 9,000-pound sarcophagus and some beautifully carved tomb lintels, and we'll update those details as soon as we can. Today's mission was simple. These items had to be in place before the rest of the room could be built around them.

Elsewhere today, the limestone-cladding crew tackled some heavy decorative trim as they neared the top of the north addition, and a fellow working on a new stairwell railing took advantage of a beautiful day to set up shop under an shady oak. Meanwhile, in secure storage areas, the art waits patiently to return to public view.

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Aug. 13, 2013

Around the Building, Process by Process, Step by Step

Shown above, a view soon to be never seen again. as the space between the pillar and shadowed wall will soon be covered by roof. Elsewhere, all around the building you see the same process played out repeatedly. After the steel and block comes the insulation and metal studs. Next, walls are shored with plywood before being covered by sheetrock. Right above, once the ceiling frames are wired in, electricians follow with lighting circuits. In small mechanical rooms, conduit pipes grow like vines, and over by an old stairwell dating back to the original construction, there's work on a new rail. So many things to see: Just look at the wood fibers used to protect carved limestone.

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Aug. 12, 2013

A Color Photo That Does No Justice to the Quality of the Color Planning

Shown above, we found our Chief Curator, Jeff Harrison, alone in our dimly lit theatre Monday afternoon. We've been testing various energy-efficient lights for our newly reinstalled galleries, and thanks to this setup on stage, Harrison could see how projected gallery colors would look under new LED lights.

We're not one of those museums that believe in just painting every wall white, and as Harrison explained, the perfect gallery color is not only appropriate for the era of the works, it should make the paintings pop off the wall while still complementing the overall color scheme of the displayed works. Shown above he's analyzing paint chips in relation to Auguste Renoir's The Daughters of Durand-Ruel. He's been working on carpet choices, too. Not only for the colors, but also to make sure the weave won't wear out in a directional pattern. No way we're going to let carpet scuffs point the way to the most popular painting in the gallery.

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Aug. 9, 2013

A High Priority on a Single Wall

In our redesigned Ancient Worlds gallery, some objects are so old, heavy and big they need to be put in place while there's still room to use specialized rigging equipment. So this week one wall had to be completely finished so the artifacts could be placed. Shown above, sanding the mudded drywall seams while the wall could still be reached.

In notes to close out the week, with the new porch columns in place it was time to top them with capitals. Inside, we found a dusty plexiglass vitrine in a lonely, empty gallery and we found some materials that became an accidental sculpture. We were also quite pleased to see an artist ignore all the construction to pursue the refinement of her skills.

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Aug. 7, 2013

Getting Down to the Heavy Lifting

A major step today on the south addition, as the solid limestone columns started going into place for the porch that will gracefully accent our Memorial Gardens. At 2,700 pounds apiece, these installations were no easy feat. The pillars were carefully rigged to hang perfectly straight before being craned into place over a mortared base. The last part should have been dicey—making sure everything was perfectly level and plumb (considering the difficulty of adjusting solid stone weighing more than a ton). Turns out, things went well, and once all the columns are in, the steel can go up for the roof trusses. We'll then be another step closer to creating one of the most tranquil spots on our campus. It's going to be a great place to relax when we reopen next spring.

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Aug. 6, 2013

On a Rainy Day, Talk Turns to Breakfast Cereals. Seriously

Plenty going on around the building, including the seemingly endless process of installing and wiring new HVAC equipment, but today we start with small talk among the crew. It started as a topic on a break and spread to a survey—"What's your favorite breakfast cereal?" The surprise wasn't that Kellogg's Frosted Flakes won; it was the big strong tough guy construction worker who answered "Fruity Pebbles."

On the first floor, there's a lot of plywood going up that will add strength to the sheetrock walls. It's a steady process of measuring, cutting, hauling and hanging. On the outside, hoisting the columns for a new porch wound up delayed for a day, and in terms of the job site alternating between dust and mud, things are pretty soggy right now.

Shown at top, a storage stack of straight-edge metal trim becomes accidental abstract art.

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Aug. 5, 2013

Working All The Angles

Around the Museum today, more protective flashing was installed on the new roofs. It's important to get the new additions watertight because the new galleries are looking a little lonely and empty these days. Elsewhere, a jackhammer blasted away on our front steps to clear the way for new accessibility ramps, and work continued on the new porch for the south addition. The new porch columns could start going up Tuesday, which will allow for the installation of the stacked and waiting roof trusses.

Shown at top, stacks of plywood are commonplace these days. The sheets add strength below the sheetrock in our re-installed first-floor galleries.

Earlier entries

July 2013

June 2013

May 2013

April 2013

March 2013

February 2013

January 2013

October/December 2012

August/September 2012

June/July 2012