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ICYMI: Trans Am Apocalypse No. 3 rolls into the AGO

March 27th, 2017

AGO staff members carefully move the Trans AM. Photo: AGO

How do you move a 3,300-pound 1980 V8 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am into an art gallery? An AGO team found out last year when they installed John Scott’s celebrated Trans Am Apocalypse No. 3 in Irina Moore Gallery East, next to the Henry Moore Sculpture Centre on Level 2.

“It took an hour and eight staff members to roll it, and we used four automotive Go-Jak dollies, each of which was mounted under one of the wheels,” said Sherry Phillips, the AGO’s Conservator of Contemporary and Inuit Art. “It was an exciting parade as we made our way in through the shipping dock, up the freight elevator and down the hall into the gallery.”

On display for the first time since it was acquired in 2007, the Trans Am is designed for the modern horseman of the apocalypse, one who rides in an era of machismo and consumerism. Covered in black house paint, the vehicle has the entire text of the Revelation of St. John the Divine from the New Testament etched across its surface. The work is subject to ongoing and highly-specialized conservation efforts, but a work this big takes up too much room in our Conservation Studio. Fortunately, we’re happy to share the ongoing conservation with our visitors.

This extensive and ongoing conservation project has not gone unnoticed – it was recently awarded the Lieutenant Governor’s Ontario Heritage Award for Excellence in Conservation! Established in 2007, the Lieutenant Governor’s Ontario Heritage Awards are annual juried awards administered by the Ontario Heritage Trust to recognize exceptional achievements in heritage conservation.

Our Social Media Officer Lexie Buchanan spoke with Sherry recently about the long process of restoring a work of art like the Trans Am.

Come and see it for yourself! Viewing the Trans Am is included in general admission and is part of our Toronto: Tributes + Tributaries, 1971–1989 exhibition on Level 4 which ends on May 22. Click here to read more about the Trans Am and our ongoing conservation efforts.

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