Southern Crane Lifts Rodin’s “The Thinker” Into Place for N.C. Museum of Art

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Thousands of visitors enjoy the North Carolina Museum of Art without ever contemplating how large-scale cherished sculptures find their physical resting place. It takes a very special crane company to support one of the world’s most recognizable sculptures. Recently, Southern Crane was tasked with lifting into place “The Thinker” and many other precious sculptures of the featured presentation of Auguste Rodin works at the newly expanded North Carolina Museum of Art.

"The Thinker" is lowered onto its pedestal at the N.C. Museum of Art thanks to Southern Crane and Southern Industrial Constructors.

"We are honored to be entrusted by the North Carolina Museum of Art with moving into place so many cherished, world-famous works of art,” said Earl Johnson, III, president of Southern Crane.

It takes strength, strategy and a delicate touch to lift into place one of the world’s most recognizable sculptures for installation in the South’s high-profile new art museum. Raleigh-based Southern Industrial Constructors is often called upon when the task at hand is moving precious works of art on behalf of the North Carolina Museum of Art (NCMA). Recently, Southern Industrial and its subsidiary Southern Crane helped install the museum’s newest works, Auguste Rodin’s “The Thinker” and Roxy Paine’s “Askew,” a 43-foot stainless steel tree.

“We are honored to be entrusted by the North Carolina Museum of Art with moving into place so many cherished, world-famous works of art,” said Earl Johnson, III, president of Southern Crane. “Complex moves are a specialty, and our staff feels a tremendous sense of pride when called upon to support moving these public treasures.”

Visitors to the NCMA have an entirely new experience within the 164-acre park, which offers a unique blend of art, architecture, and nature. The Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Foundation’s gift of 28 sculptures by Auguste Rodin makes NCMA the largest repository of Rodin sculptures in the Southeastern United States, with 30 works in total.

In recent months, Southern Industrial and sister company Southern Crane handled the rigging and heavy lifting required to install the prized works of art, both inside the new building and outdoors in the specially designed Cantor Garden. “The Thinker” is the most famous and is on two-year loan from Stanford University. The NCMA has a photo gallery of the installation.

Other installations included “Askew,” a 43-foot tall, hand-wrought, stainless steel tree with elaborate branching. Designed specifically for the Museum by artist Roxy Paine, the gift honors Julia Jones Daniels, former chairwoman of the Board of Trustees of the NCMA. View a photo gallery of “Askew."

Southern Industrial Constructors is often entrusted with high-profile installations and moves, including those dating to the 1960s to install giant marble statues at the museum’s original location. Its subsidiary, Southern Crane, is the region’s longest-running crane service provider. Southern Crane lowers Raleigh’s giant acorn every year at First Night Raleigh, and helped install the stage for the U2 360 Tour during the band’s stop in Raleigh last year.

Founded in 1962, Southern Industrial Constructors is among the region’s largest private employers, providing a unique set of heavy industrial construction services to organizations across the country. These services include: comprehensive industrial construction; industrial electrical construction; complete plant relocations, installations and maintenance of manufacturing and process plants, turnkey rigging and precision millwright work; heavy lift and crane services; industrial process piping; precision civil/concrete work; and specialized metal fabrication/erection.

Southern Industrial Constructors is based in Raleigh, with offices in Charlotte and Wilmington, N.C., and Columbia, S.C. It is the corporate parent of wholly owned subsidiary Southern Crane, the region’s most comprehensive crane and rigging service provider. The company advocates nationally for industry safety standards requiring its crane operators to be certified by the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators. All Southern Crane operators have been awarded NCCCO certification.

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