Monday, November 24, 2008

An Epic Adventure: Venice to Fort Lauderdale, Part III

For Part I of this story, click here. For Part II, click here.

On day three of the trip, I met our massive freight plane at Luxembourg Airport. Our palletized crates were being loaded into the belly of the craft through gaping hatches in its nose and sides. I climbed up several steep ladders to the top where the small passenger cabin was located behind the cockpit. Other than the crew, I would be the plane’s only passenger for the trip.

Though the weather was perfect, our flight left late due to a weight distribution issue encountered while loading the cargo. I chuckled to myself: weight, once again, was causing me delay. A strong headwind extended the flight itself to more than ten hours, and we didn’t arrive in Miami until after 10:30PM EST.

After nearly choking on the hot, sticky Floridian air, I went through customs, and, once our crates were off-loaded from the plane and removed from their pallets, again, using a variety of large forklifts, I watched them loaded onto trucks for the forty-five minute trip to the Museum of Art-Fort Lauderdale. There I was met by the museum’s bleary-eyed crew and we off-loaded the crates from the trucks and finally deposited them safely in their exhibition gallery. We finished at 2:30AM, twenty-five hours since I woke up that morning and seventy-three hours after I had left Venice.

I reported to the museum the next day and, over several days, we unpacked the artwork, checked its condition, laid out the show, and installed the paintings on the walls and the sculpture on pedestals (see above and right). The artwork had made it without any damage, testament to the well-built crates and the careful handling by all who moved them. Everything was set for the opening on November 6th.

While this marked the end of this adventure, this was not the end of the show. Coming of Age: American Art, 1850s to 1950s will be traveling to Canada to the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec in Québec City next year and that transport will present a whole new set of challenges. But, for now, my work was done, and I flew back to Boston knowing our collection was in excellent hands in Florida.

James M. Sousa
Associate Registrar for Collections and Archives

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