Antioch Mosaic, The Davis Museum, Wellesley


Provide engineering design for rigging and relocation of a 10,000lb, 1500-year-old mosaic at the Davis Museum & Cultural Center at Wellesley College.  The mosaic originally came from Antioch in Syria and has been at Wellesley College since the 1930’s.  In the mid-1990s, the museum relocated the mosaic to hang from a wall; now they decided it was best to lay it flat again – three floors down and at the opposite end of the building.  The museum engaged CBI to first assess the capacity of the floor system and to design a rigging system to safely move the sensitive art piece from the top floor wall to the lower floor, where it would become a focus of the permanent collection.


CBI divided our services into three phases: Meeting & Project Scope, Rigging Equipment Design, and Rigging & Relocation.  CBI coordinated with the Museum, a rigging contractor, a steel fabricator, and an art conservation consultant.  We worked closely with the rigger and the fabricator to produce a steel transport frame that was easy to maneuver, economical to build, and sufficient to support the large 12’ x 12’ piece as it rolled along the floor.

CBI designed the transport frame and the wall brackets that were used by the rigger to support the heavy piece as it was slowly lowered down onto the transport frame. We produced construction drawings for the frame and the wall supports – or “lugs”.  CBI worked closely with the steel fabricator through the shop-drawing review process. 

CBI attended the lowering of the mosaic.  For two decades it had hung vertically on the wall, supported by large plates and welded anchors into the building’s structural steel.  Now in its new home, it features as a centerpiece in the museum’s renovated and reimagined galleries.