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Trans Am Apocalypse No. 3 rolls into the AGO

John Scott's famous Trans Am Apocalypse No.3 is a 3300 pound Pontiac Firebird. Here's how we move it around the gallery.

AGO staff members carefully move the Trans AM

AGO staff members moving John Scott's, Trans Am Apocalypse No. 3, 1998-2000. Incised text on acrylic paint on a Pontiac Firebird Trans Am 1980, Overall (approx.): 129 × 184 × 504 cm, 1496.9 kg. Gift of Chris Poulsen, 2007. © John Scott, courtesy Nicholas Metivier Gallery. Photo: AGO

How do you move a priceless, 3,300-pound 1980 V8 Pontiac Firebird Trans AM into an art gallery? An AGO team recently found out when they installed John Scott’s celebrated Trans Am Apocalypse No. 3 into Irina Moore Gallery East, next to the Moore Centre on the second floor.

“It took an hour and eight staff members to roll it, and we used four automotive Go-Jack 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 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. Over the coming months Sherry will continue to improve the appearance of the car - stabilizing the paint layers, filling in areas of loss, and restoring the text incised on the exterior. Visitors to the AGO are invited to see the work in progress for themselves daily in Irina Moore Gallery.

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