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Hanging a Tapestry in the Met Is a Lot More Complicated Than You Think

The hanging.  

Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Metropolitan Museum of Art recently opened a new exhibit: Grand Design, a collection featuring 19 massive tapestries by Renaissance master Pieter Coecke van Aelst. The tapestries are epic, intricate pieces, spanning up to thirty feet in length and weighing an average of 100 pounds—which begs the question of how, exactly, the museum hangs them. Luckily, the Met released a video illustrating the surprisingly arduous procedure of mounting van Aelst’s work.

Before the mounting, though, there’s the problem of getting the pieces to New York—a process that requires them to be rolled into cylindrical tubes, flown from one of the three European airports that possess large enough cargo planes, and either shuttled up the Met’s freight elevator or carried up the museum’s front steps. The tapestries are then rolled onto huge sheets of plastic, lined with heavy-duty Velcro, and rigged via rope-and-pulley onto the wall. Wooden slats and copper wires secure them in place. 

It took two weeks to install the tapestries. Just a reminder that when at a museum, it’s worth appreciating not just what’s on the wall, but how it got there.