Gottesman Hall of Planet Earth

Location: American Museum of Natural History, New York

During the summers of 1998 and 1999, we travelled to Scotland, Switzerland, Italy, Hawaii and within the continental USA to mold geological formations for the AMNH’s new geology hall.

All of the molding for this project occurred on site. Sites were generally accessible by a 4x4 but ranged in height from working at ground level to needing ladders, genii lifts and suspended hanging scaffolding. Tools and materials arrived at the sites in containers. Once the molds were complete they were shipped back to our shop for casting. The largest land peel that we molded and cast was 35 feet high x 35 feet long. The completed casts were then cut into manageable pieces for ease of transport and installation. All the seams were finished in situ at the museum. We take pride in producing seamless work. The metal columns that support the peels were also produced in our shop.

No matter how much planning is done in advance, there is always something unexpected that comes up. On July 12, 1998, we left for Siccar Point, Scotland planning to make a mold of a site on the Hutton Unconformity that was accessible with 40 foot ladders. When we arrived, a more representative sample of the formation had been found which was close to the planned site. The new site just happened to be located on a cliff face 80 feet above the North Sea. To access the site, we had to build a working platform that was anchored to the ground on top of the cliff. Steel for the platform and ground anchors, and climbing gear needed to access the site were purchased locally while our welder generator was shipped to the site. We constructed everything we needed ourselves on site. Once the platform and ground anchors were built, the molding crew belayed to the site. Peter and his daughter Amelia measured out and mixed the rubber that was literally tossed over the cliff in lidded 5 gallon pails to the guys on the platform. Once the mold was complete, we hired local riggers who were experienced climbers and salvagers to help us lift the mold to flat ground. The mold was then shipped back to our shop for casting. By the time we were finished molding the new site, we had only added one week to our trip away.

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