How do you move a fragile 15-ton painting?

With the recent opening of our Harvard Art Museums renovation and expansion project in Cambridge, Mass., it’s worth recapping one of the most significant activities of this landmark project. That was moving and lifting a 76-year-old, 13- by 12-foot irreplaceable painting that’s integral to fragile plaster affixed to a 16-inch-thick masonry wall. Rarely do lifts personally matter so much to all involved, as this painting – called a fresco – depicts the builders of the original art museum in action in the 1920s. The fresco had to be moved for the project to proceed, and our team was determined to protect their predecessors’ legacy.

Harvard Art Museums in Cambridge, Mass.

Harvard Art Museums in Cambridge, Mass.

Skanska’s sophisticated approach involved encapsulating the fresco and its supporting wall in a massive steel frame, then using a diamond-bladed cable saw to cut the 15-ton section free of the surrounding structure, and finally using a crane – with its boom towering 140 feet in the air – to land the fresco in its final location. At every step, the loading on the fresco needed to be constant so the artwork wouldn’t crack. Thanks to our team’s unrelenting precision, it didn’t.

Skanska USA

Skanska USA

Skanska USA is one of the largest, most financially sound construction and development companies in the U.S., serving a broad range of clients in the public and private sectors, including those in transportation, power, industrial, water/wastewater, healthcare, life science, education, sports & entertainment, data centers, government, aviation and commercial industries.

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{ 1 comment… add one }
  • James Threalkill January 20, 2015, 4:49 pm

    As a practicing artist, I can appreciate the careful consideration given to preserving and protecting the aesthetic quality of a piece of art. Another example of our organization’s vast array of resources that we can offer to an owner. Great feature!

    Reply

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