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Masses descend around and below LACMA's 'Levitated Mass' sculpture

June 24, 2012|By Danielle Paquette

With iPhones and cameras out, crowds virtually stampeded the white concrete path to view Michael Heizer's "Levitated Mass," which opened Sunday morning at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

The famously reclusive Heizer was on hand for the opening ceremonies and stood at the exit with LACMA director Michael Govan, shaking hands with museum guests and signing tickets.

Govan cut the ribbon with a pair of gold-handled scissors to officially open the $10-million sculpture.

PHOTOS: Between a rock and a hard place

"It does make the impossible possible," Govan said to an audience of donors, trustees and government officials.

"As Michael [Heizer] said to me once, 'When do you get to see the bottoms of sculptures?"

The rock drew massive attention -- as well as ardent crowds -- when it made an 11-night journey this March from a quarry in Riverside through a series of Los Angeles County cities to the LACMA grounds on Wilshire Boulevard.

The 340-ton boulder traveled on a specially made transporter at just a few miles per hour as it negotiated surface streets, bridges, at least one tight overpass and sharp turns, a trip that required months of logistical planning and negotiating with local municipalities.

Crowds turned out to watch it move through the greater L.A. area, and in one place that it stopped for the night, Bixby Knolls in Long Beach, thousands of people flocked to an impromptu street party around the granite boulder.

The finished "Levitated Mass'' is the realization of a decades-old idea of Heizer's. He tried to build it in 1969 with a smaller boulder, but the crane attempting to lift the giant rock snapped.

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