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Exploring: The Rock (Levitated Mass) in Los Angeles (updated in 2023)

June 28, 2012:

Levitated Mass rock, LACMA, Los Angeles - photo by KilmerMedia

Walking on the way to CBS last Friday, I noticed something – there sat the “Levitated Mass” rock all by itself, uncovered and alone, with temporary fencing still around the premises. I thought it odd that there had seemingly been no fanfare or updates about it lately. In order to not be late to my meeting, I planned on snapping some pictures of the exhibit on the way back home.

In the few hours that had passed, though, the giant rock had been covered back up by what was basically the biggest car cover you’d see ’cause, you know, it was customized for a boulder. At that moment, workers were tying up the strings at the bottom. “Why would they be covering it back up?” I wondered. "After all, it's a rock."

I made another trip to CBS on Monday, and the temporary fencing and rock’s “car cover” were gone. People were happily walking down the slope, taking photos, and discussing Levitated Mass and all the challenges and criticism the exhibit brought.

Now having walked under the installation and checked it out......... I still don’t get it. As you walk down the slope, it’s supposed to appear as if the boulder is floating. That's pretty hard to imagine, with it being supported on two sides. Maybe you can envision it, but I can’t.

In a way, it's nice live close to something that some people make a point to see. I get the desire, but it's really not worth making a special trip. In the greater context, the museum on this same site, LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art) is pretty lacking compared to the Getty Museum (which is free!). LACMA does sometimes does offer great exhibits, and the La Brea Tar Pits are also right next door. It’s free to visit Levitated Mass, and that's what makes spending any time here the best part.


Original Post from March 10, 2012:

Apparently some people still haven’t yet heard about this utterly chaotic display the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) is working on. It’s a 340 ton boulder that, as of this morning, has just completed the 11 day, 100+ mile trek from a quarry in Riverside, CA to here – the Miracle Mile section of Los Angeles.

The move required a massive trailer contraption with 196 wheels, powered by three trucks, and was moved only during the night so as to not bump up L.A. traffic a notch, from really, really bad to really, really, really bad. Light poles and traffic lights had to be taken down along the way and certain bridges and roads had to be avoided since, of course, 680,000 lbs. greatly exceeds the weight a typical truck might be hauling on any random day.

Given the $10,000,000 price tag for the whole operation, the whole thing seems kinda….stupid. Thankfully, however, funding came from private donations, and I will give it a fair chance once the exhibit opens at LACMA.

What comes next is the rock will be moved parallel to the display and, somehow, will be hoisted onto its supports. “Levitated Mass,” as it’s to be called, will consist of the large boulder with a channel running underneath it, so that visitors can walk under the rock.

It’s expected that the exhibit will open sometime during this coming summer (2012).

LACMA 5905 Wilshire Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90036

Levitated Mass rock, LACMA, Los Angeles - photo by KilmerMedia

The channel where the Levitated Mass boulder will rest

Levitated Mass transport, LACMA, Los Angeles - photo by KilmerMedia

196 wheels and a whole bunch of axles

Emmert International transporting the Levitated Mass rock installation at LACMA in Los Angeles - photo by KilmerMedia

channel running under the Levitated Mass display at LACMA in Los Angeles - photo by KilmerMedia


"Exploring: The Rock (Levitated Mass) in Los Angeles" (2012)

Written by: Justin Kilmer

updated in 2023: never-published photos and descriptions


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