11 July 2013

Moving Day


You know how it is.  You want to move a lamp from this table to that.  But, it is heavy, the cord gets tangled, the outlet doesn't work, you need an extension cord and on and on.  Well, the next time that happens, think about my friend, Catherine.  One of her many jobs is moving the Alexander Calder stiable, Gwenfritz, from the front of the Smithsonian to the side of the Smithsonian. 

ASIDE ABOUT THE SIDE: The "Smithsonian" is not one big thing as many tourists might believe, but a whole bunch of big things scattered from hell to breakfast. The Gwenfritz sits beside the National Museum of American History which was formerly the Museum of History and Technology which is just one part of the gigantic Smithsonian.  

ASIDE SPECIFICALLY FOR YOU ARCHITECTURE FANS:  The National Museum of American History, formerly the Museum of History and Technology was the last building designed by McKim, Mead and White.

Anyway, the Gwenfritz weighs in at 35 tons which is comprised of 75 pieces held together with 1,270 bolts.  After 50 years sitting outside, they are going to need a river of WD-40 for all those bolts!  Once disassembled, it will be cleaned, repaired, repainted, moved and re-assembled on the side of the Smithsonian which is technically the West Front.  (Pity those poor tourists who thought they were just going to one big ol' building -- now they find that the Museum of American History has four fronts.  (Clearly, telling someone to meet "in front of the Smithsonian" holds the potential of being lost forever, but I digress...)

According to Ewing Cole, this is what the site will look like upon completion.

During the dedication, a soft-spoken Calder said, “I call it the Caftolin.”   At that moment a plane flew overhead. (It was the olden days when flying over the Mall was allowed.)   Since Calder's voice was drowned out, Gwen Cafritz who paid for the sculpture, stood up and announced loud and clearly that it was called the "Gwenfritz"  and since she paid for it the name stuck.

Read more about the move here.

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