Deirdre Cox Baker

There are several answers to the question of how to move a 54-ton sculpture from a site it never was intended to occupy. One, of course, would be carefully. Another would be slowly. Still another, less obviously, would be the wrong way.

The sculpture by world-renowned artist Sol LeWitt that has sat at the entrance to the Davenport RiverCenter for 20 years will be moved several blocks Sunday morning to a new site near the Figge Art Museum. It will travel about 2 mph and start its journey by moving the wrong direction on 3rd Street, a one-way on which traffic normally heads east.

Officials believe the location near the under-construction museum will provide a more pleasing showcase. Museum curator Michelle Robinson said the 21-foot sculpture originally was designed to be in a plaza-type setting, which never materialized as once planned outside the RiverCenter.

"It's never been seen to its best advantage," she said Friday. "I think people will be surprised at how different it looks in a big open space."

New home

The Figge's new plaza will include trees and benches, and the sculpture will be placed near the northwest corner of Harrison and 2nd streets.

It turns out that David Chipperfield, the architect of the Figge, is a big fan of LeWitt's works. Noted for his conceptual and minimalist art, LeWitt's work was featured in a 2001 exhibit at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City.

Robinson is coordinating the move that, among other things, will require five traffic lights to be taken down because of the sculpture's height and then promptly reinstalled. Work actually will begin at 8 a.m. today to separate the gigantic piece of art from its foundation.

Beginning at 7 a.m. Sunday, the sculpture will be lifted off the ground by a crane and placed on a Low-Boy trailer. It will be moved at a walking pace, heading west — the wrong way on the one-way — along 3rd Street before the unusual parade takes a left on Harrison and continues one block south to 2nd Street.

Tri-City Electric Co., of Davenport, will precede the entourage to remove the traffic lights and replace them after the sculpture passes by. Third Street will be closed Sunday morning from just past the Davenport RiverCenter to Harrison Street, and the entire project should be completed by noon.

"We're trying to avoid as much traffic as we can and do this on a day of the week that disrupts the fewest people," Robinson said.

She noted that LeWitt also completed two wall drawings for the Davenport RiverCenter, at least one of which will eventually be placed in the new museum. LeWitt will send a team of workers to move it next year.

The $30 million Figge Art Museum is expected to open in July 2005.

Deirdre Cox Baker can be contacted at (563) 383-2492 or dbaker@qctimes.com.

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