– Craning multi-tonne works through the roof

Posted on Dec. 19, 2012 by Keir Winesmith in Digital Media. View Comments

Two sculptures in the Anish Kapoor exhibition, Untitled (2000) and Oracle (1990-2002), have a combined weight of 9.7 tonnes. The MCA’s exhibitions services manager Tony Mighell engaged specialist lift technicians and a trolley engineer to get the works up to the gallery floor in the trolley and through the gallery to one of the only spaces in the museum where supporting beams overlapped that could take the weight of the works. Once all the calculations were done the lift technicians were unwilling to risk the works in the MCA goods lift and the trolley engineers simply said “no way”.

Tony Mighell and the MCA’s Chief Operating Officer Euan Upston began to work on alternate solutions and stuck on a novel idea. After the gallery skylight was removed, a hole was cut into the roof of the gallery above the space Untitled and Oracle would be positioned. A plan was hatched to crane works through the roof, right onto the gallery floor. In the process, the team designed a removable section of roof and a modular internal system for easy future removal. As Tony says, “this made the process, although costly, extremely worthwhile”.

I thought that was such a crazy/excellent idea that I had to capture it on film. We grabbed a couple of GoPro cameras and a Canon 7D and waited until midnight. The MCA organised a massive crane and diverted traffic on one of the busiest roads in Sydney’s CBD. The whole process was delayed 2 hours by an unmarked police car that had been left in the way, as the local police couldn’t find the police person who had left it there. In the end it had to be towed so the crane could fit in.

I put one GoPro in the gallery and attempted to attach the other to the head of the crane. I was a little worried the crane operator would stop me, but as soon as he saw it he said “Is that a GoPro? They’re awesome. Let’s strap it to the crane”. Thanks to a bit of gaffa tape we were ready to film. You can see the result below.


Tony Mighell was also interviewed in the Sydney Morning Herald about the complexity of installing the Anish Kapoor exhibition.

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Keir Winesmith
– Manager, Digital Media

Keir was the MCA’s Digital Media Manager for a two year period up until July 2013.

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