Here’s how SFMOMA got a 60,000-pound fresco inside

Diego Rivera’s Pan-American Unit from the City College of San Francisco (CCSF) had to literally be brought into the museum – one heavy slab at a time

Photo: screenshot via Instagram

When SFMOMA reopened to the public earlier this year, museum visitors could look forward to a series of new exhibits, including pandemic inspired murals. (That’s not to say the past few months haven’t also seen the cultural center shrouded in controversy, however, after SFMOMA interim director Neal Benezra resigned his post. after a series of racist allegations surfaced.)

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Although the Twin Wall Mural Society Oyour The wildest dreams of ancestorsa deeply personal project described by artists Elaine Chu and Marina Perez-Wong, who say the piece is rich in symbolism, featuring chakras throughout the piece – which was commissioned just or SFMOMA, is 46 feet tall long. But her height is pale to Rivera’s Pan American Unity wall.

Before the mural found a home inside SFMOMA, the 74-foot-wide, 60,000-pound artwork was encased in a 12-inch-thick concrete wall in the Diego Rivera Theater. of the CCSF, where it has been since 1961. And the work, ingenuity and creativity that went into freeing the mural from the walls of the CCSF was truly impressive, as evidenced by a recent IG museum download.

“The engineers + the Athowe Fine Art Services moving team pulled each panel out of a 12 inch thick concrete wall at the CCSF,” the video caption read. The team that was responsible for carrying out the move had spent years solving all the little problems and overcoming all the logistical hurdles to make it happen.

“Once removed, the team enclosed the Rivera panels in a protective travel frame that reduced vibrations and jolts,” the legend continues; video at one point shows a towering red crane positioned on one side of Howard Street hoisting each piece into the museum as cars passed under them. “From there, they transported the panels through San Francisco at 5 MPH at 4 am a series of Sunday mornings.”

Once the pieces were transported to SFMOMA, the on-site team then had the task of accommodating each panel over thirty meters in the air (and over power lines, mind you) before lowering them into the museum and fixing them. in a custom steel structure.

Now installed in the Roberts Family Gallery, the mural will be on display by summer 2023. For more information on the exhibition, visit

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