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News and notes from around the world


An art museum moves heaven and earth for an unusually large installation

Six years ago, Rick Albrecht, heavy-haul logistics supervisor for transportation firm Emmert International, got a call from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The museum had, as he puts it, an “odd” request. “We’ve done silos, missiles, a hotel, the Hubble Telescope and [Howard Hughes’ plane] the Spruce Goose,” Albrecht says, “but a rock? Of course I said, ‘Yeah, we can move that.'”

Fast-forward to earlier this year, when a two-story megalith was selected from a quarry and driven across three counties to the museum, where it eventually will be placed atop a 456-foot-long, 15-foot-deep concrete-lined slot on LACMA’s campus. Artist Michael Helzer intends for the installation, titled Levitated Mass and scheduled to open this month, to “speak to the expanse of art history,” from ancient works in stone to cutting-edge feats of engineering. For the movers, though, the piece has already made a significant impression: “It’s been a paperwork nightmare,” Albrecht says. —JAMES BARTLETT



In New Zealand, a beloved foodstuff is in short supply

After an earthquake shut down New Zealand’s only Marmite factory last year, a new term was coined: “Marmageddon.” Pierre van Heerden, general manager of Sanitarium, the company that churns out 240 tons of the yeast-extract product annually, has recommended that consumers conserve what they have by putting it on warm toast, because “it spreads easier and goes a little bit further.” Even Prime Minister John Key has weighed in, admitting he has no problem switching to Vegemite, the Australian-produced rival product. No telling yet what effect that will have on Key’s standing with voters, who re-elected him in a historic landslide last year. —SAM POLCER

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