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Expansion and Renovation Update Blog


May 30, 2013

Between a Block and a Hard Place

A close-up look today at the crew which is covering the concrete block of our new additions with beautiful Indiana limestone. The heavy pieces are lifted in by machinery, and note at top how the lift-strap is being held stable while a teammate cuts a connector slot in the precut piece. Also note how the cutter is working in the space between the walls and the scaffolding, a space only two boards wide. Click the image to enlarge.

May 28, 2013

With the Art Safely Locked Away, Workers Continue to Make Progress

At top, we got a quick peek Tuesday into one of the secure art storage areas and don't worry, everything is fine. At lower left, at the very bottom of the new elevator shaft, workers build forms for new concrete walls. Blocking in the new shaft should begin this week. At lower right, a welder tightens up an exterior bracket. It'll be covered in limestone before you know it. Click any image to enlarge.


May 22, 2013

There's A Lot Going On All Around The Building, But Today We Look At The New Cafe

The word that comes to mind is "scurry." Wednesday, there was work surrounding three different floors of our new elevator project, there were workers applying insulation on the rooftop of a new addition, there were teams of workers spraying columns with fire-resistant foam, and final touches were being applied to concrete-block walls.

On the north addition, where the new cafe is being framed in, workers have been cutting what will be the new doorways. Talk to the demolition team members and they'll tell you the worst part is they never get to admire their work. When finishing for the day, they board up and batten down and lock up and close any openings until they return the next day to begin again. Security remains tight even when all the art is packed away and even when we look more like a jobsite than a museum. The same principles always apply. No perimeter is ever left insecure.

May 20, 2013

No Pressure Here. The Irreplaceable Egyptian Artifact at Hand is Only 4,200 Years Old

Shown above, that's Adam Jenkins welding while Chrysler conservator Mark Lewis watches from the safety of the  mask.

The carved limestone Tomb Lintel of Ihii dates to late Dynasty 5 or early Dynasty 6, which means it was carved somewhere between 2375-2287 B.C. The two pieces had been surrounded by plaster and metal protective frames and hung as one unit. As part of the redesign of our Ancient Worlds galleries, it will be presented as two separate units, as a good Egyptologist could spot that when it came to the hieroglyphs, there were words missing between the picture at left and the writing at right. The one-piece version is shown below. Click any image to enlarge.


May 17, 2013

A Week Where the Installation of the New Glass Cases Began

As shown above, the specialized cases for our new glass galleries arrived on our loading dock this week, and here's the first one going into place.

In the new doorways between the existing structure and the new additions, there are steel-reinforced frames, which this week led to a lot of work by welders (as seen here, here, and here.)

Another item of note was taking place off to your immediate right when you come in the front door. Shown below is the demolition required to put in a new wheelchair lift for Huber Court. Improving accessibility is a key component of our overall expansion and renovation plans. Click any image to enlarge.


May 10, 2013

Top/Bottom, North/South, Inside/Outside:
Something in Progress Pretty Much Everywhere

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Final excavations for the new elevator machinery. The fine mist from the hose keeps down the dust. To orient yourself inside the Museum, the red door at left is an entrance to the Kaufman Theatre. Click image to enlarge.

From the top of the building (flashing on the skylights) to the bottom (first-floor excavation), from squeezing in the final blocks on the north addition to readying new lighting in our Large Oval Gallery, there's plenty of progress to report. And all the while, curators, designers and managers continue to map out the new Chrysler.

Now if you're in the neighborhood, and are wondering about the people roofing our new additions, well, here's the view from their perch.


May 8, 2013

Cleaning Sam Gilliam's Norfolk Keels After a Decade of Brightening Huber Court

It's been a decade since our site-specific art installation in Huber Court has been taken down for cleaning. With dust flying from museum renovations, the Norfolk Keels were taken down months ago for protection, and Wednesday it was time for Mark and Gwen of our conservation team to freshen them up. Here's the first thing you notice: You really appreciate the size and the color of these works when seen up close.

Shown below left, the HEPA vacuum cleaner being used is an import that costs $1,500 new, and would be at home in a nuclear reactor clean room. Shown below middle, the acrylic on cotton duck canvas artwork has held up well considering its lifetime spent in bright sunshine, though one side is more faded than the other. Below right, Mark shows off a new iPad-based way of applying documentation directly to photographs of the work of art under assessment. Click any image to enlarge.


May 7, 2013

What's the Name of the Stone on the Exterior of our New Additions? The Picture is a Clue

Shown at right is a paperweight gift to the Museum Director and President, William Hennessey, from the Evans Limestone Company. That's the firm custom-crafting the roughly 800 pieces of cladding needed to have our new exteriors perfectly match our existing building. This particular brand of limestone is called Indiana limestone because it's found almost exclusively in three Indiana counties.

In reporting on the first corner going into place, it's worth noting how much of all this depends upon the skill of the crane operator who must fly the heavy pieces high, skillfully drop them in the space between the wall and the scaffolding, and then help with minor adjustments despite being a considerable distance away. The operator must stay with it until the piece is precisely positioned.

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Photo by Ed Pollard. Click image to enlarge.

May 6, 2013

On Our New Gallery Additions, a Limestone Milestone

As shown above, what starts with a little dust from a Stihl block-cutting saw can cascade into quite a cloud.

When it comes to putting the limestone exterior cladding on our two new additions, the reason for these cuts and adjustments is clear to any Harriet Homeowner who has ever laid a floor. Getting the first row absolutely perfect is crucial to the alignment of every additional block.

Making it even more important here is that some of these carved blocks weigh more than a ton, and are carefully positioned by crane, as shown at right.

Shown below left is some history—the first pieces on the first corner. Below middle, note the number on the piece. There are 800 number-coded pieces of this gigantic puzzle, and that's why it will take about four weeks per addition to complete. Below right, space between the waterproofed wall and the scaffolding is tight. Click any image to enlarge.

BONUS: Click here to see our little visitor making a break for it. Somebody must have said something about not wearing a hard hat.

May 3, 2013

A Week That Saw Work From Top to Bottom—Literally

A lot of progress this week, from work on new rooftop skylights to banging a hole in the first-floor to accommodate new elevator machinery. We even had people working in really tight spots.

The elevator project, where the old shaft has been torn down and a new shaft has been cut through steel and concrete, has made for some incredible views. The best views will be we reopen. Moving the elevator will make our museum layout much easier to navigate. Click any image to enlarge.

May 2, 2013

Four Guys, Six Tons and Six Inches to Spare

In a project powered by modern tools and technology, some things still come down to muscle and determination.

Replacing our outdated HVAC chillers is a major component in our going green. As reported last month, after the 12,700 pound unit was shut down and disconnected, it was cut from its moorings, put on rollers, and winched towards the roof door.

The last stretch, over an expanded metal floor, came down to brute force and determination that was pretty exhausting. Shown below, once it was close enough to the door to be rigged up to the waiting crane, there was a little finesse with a pry bar for the tight fit on the door. From the roof, the chiller was flown over the parking lot and expertly dropped in the dumpster. It used to protect valuable works of art. Now it's going to be melted for scrap iron.

May 1, 2013

Meanwhile, Back in the Conservation Lab

Shown above, Gwen with her just-finished project, a cleaned and restored 1791 candelabra, and her next project, an assessment of a Rubens painting.

The candelabra was originally part of a matched pair, but sometime in the past the second was cannibalized to restore the first (and now only the base and central stem remains). Iron wire was used in the replacement, instead of the original brass, and over the decades the oxidized iron started to stain the crystal.

After careful mapping and detailing the nearly 200 pieces, it was disassembled, shown lower left, thoroughly cleaned and triple-rinsed. Replacement brass was chemically treated to match the patina of the original, shown middle left, and everything was reassembled with a really tiny pair of pliers, middle right. After reassembly, far right, there's no time to dawdle. There's always something ready to go next in the lab, including the tricky embedded-sand finish in a modernist masterpiece that's about to go out on loan.