As for isolating an object, Metro mentioned a small champagne glass, a Greek antiquity piece, at the Getty. "The shape is relatively tipsy," he said, "and it could fall over by itself. So, we attached it to a thick flat piece of Plexiglas that is covered with fabric, and so it looks like it's in a nice little box. . . .
"On a more complicated scale," he continued, "we have engineered entire systems to isolate a full-sized sculpture. We have full-sized marble statues that are very old and with many ancient breaks, which if they were secured rigidly to the building would probably break at the ankles and fall over" in the event of an earthquake.
"Concealed in the pedestal is an isolation system which consists of a concave bowl either anchored to the floor or to the pedestal. A spring-loaded pin is forced into the bowl. On the end of the pin is a steel roller, and the entire pedestal is also on steel roller, like a captive steel ball. There would be six or eight of these to distribute the weight around.
"When the earthquake comes and the floor moves, the pedestal on the rollers moves and the spring-loaded pin pushes into the concave bowl. As the pin rides up the sides, an equal amount of pressure increases as the spring is compressed."
The Getty, he said, is apparently quite earthquake-safe. He noted that in 1983 the Getty commissioned a study from Lindvall, Richter and Associates in Pasadena (the late Charles Richter developed the earthquake-measurement scale).
"They did a complete study of the building including an examination of the structure, a complete geological site evaluation that included core drilling 200 feet into the ground. . . . "
According to Metro, the Richter associates found that even at a 6.5 measurement, "our building would survive with no damage whatsoever."
At the County Museum of Art, spokeswoman Pam Jenkinson-Leavitt said that each of the individual buildings has its own "floating foundation or pad" so that in the event of an earthquake a building would "shift by itself rather than slamming into the next one."
She said paintings are securely fastened into the walls, and works in storage are securely fastened as well. "They never just sit on a shelf," she noted.
"Wires hanging down (from the ceiling)?" she asked. "That's kind of ugly."