It took a crew of 10 on Wednesday to lift the gargantuan painting onto wall brackets and secure it with screws to become the centerpiece of a new gallery at the National World War I Museum and Memorial.
It also required tape measures, levels, pencil marks, ladders, a power drill — even a laser — and just over an hour to place John Singer Sargent’s epic work “Gassed” into its frame and secure it to the wall with brackets and screws. The painting and frame together weigh about 1,100 pounds.
“I’m breathing again,” said a relieved Doran Cart, senior curator of the museum at Kansas City’s Liberty Memorial. “My stress level has gone down quite a bit.”
The 9-foot-by-21-foot oil on canvas depicts a procession of British soldiers, their eyes covered with bandages after an enemy poison-gas attack. On loan from the Imperial War Museums in the United Kingdom, the painting will be on display in the new Wylie Gallery at the World War I museum from Feb. 23 to June 3.
The installation was supervised by an official from the Frist Center for the Visual Arts in Nashville, where the painting has most recently been exhibited. He was assisted by staff from Artworks, a company in Kansas City.
The Wylie Gallery was created to showcase special exhibits like “Gassed.” Admission will be separate from the permanent World War I museum.