8. A Giant Picasso Mural Had to be Lifted Through a Window
“Le Tricorne” tapestry on the left wall
Pablo Picasso’s “Le Tricorne,” the largest work of art in the Historical Society’s collection and America’s largest Picasso painting, used to hang in the lobby of the Four Seasons restaurant in the Seagram Building. The 19-by-20 foot tapestry originally was used as a stage curtain for a 1919 production of the ballet “Le Tricorne” performed by the famed Ballets Russes company. The piece moved to the Four Seasons in 1957 and remained there for six decades. The interior of the famous restaurant was one of the rare interior landmarks of New York City, making ownership of the painting a controversial issue. While the owner of the restaurant wanted to remove the painting to make repairs to the wall behind it, preservationists feared moving the painting would destroy it.
The tapestry was successfully removed in 2015 and sent to an art conservation facility in Williamstown, Massachusetts. Later that same year, the piece was shipped to the New-York Historical Society and raised, inside a 23-foot long tube, by a crane through a second-floor window and into the gallery space. It took several hours for a crew to carefully unfurl the curtain. You can watch a video of the Picasso’s installation here.