National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library

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A Monumental Move

Events Leading Up to Re-Opening

The NCSML pursued a plan to move and elevate its flood-damaged museum building. The museum building is part of a new and expanded facility. The 15-year-old structure, an architectural icon in Cedar Rapids and the museum’s red roof rising above the 2008 flood waters, depicted the Cedar Rapids disaster around the world.

Read more about rebuilding...

Monumental Move has Many Meanings

In June 2011, Cedar Rapids, Iowa was the site of the largest museum move in U.S. history. It involved 1,500 tons of brick and mortar, or roughly the equivalent of nearly four fully loaded Boeing 747 aircraft or 36 full semi-trailers. With the additional weight of bracing and steel support added to the building, the building weighed 1740 tons.

Including weather delays, the entire move took nearly two months, plus 45-60 days of preparation. The most difficult part of the project was elevating the building next to the parking garage and pulling the steel beams out at the end.

Crews Prepared for the Move

While preparing the 1500-ton building for relocation, structural engineers discovered the rear center (river side) was 53 tons heavier than the front. In order to safely distribute the weight during the move, additional cross bracing and 100 ft. steel beams were ordered. For cost effectiveness, the beams were shipped from Florida and welded at the site. Construction engineers indicated that the new foundation/parking garage can easily handle the additional weight.

Museum on the Move

The historic “pivot” of the flood-damaged NCSML began Saturday, June 18, 2011. Heavy metal plates were placed over the road and proceeded with the pivot. The river side has become the front side of the relocated and elevated museum.

Museum on the Rise

On June 21, 2011, the museum reached its destination (480 feet from its original location) and was then prepped for lifting. The building had to be lifted an additional 11 feet before rolling back on the slab and coming to rest. This phase took approximately five days.

On July 31, 2011, the museum arrived at its final destination. After being lifted from its original foundation, pivoting, traveling 480 feet and being raised 11 feet, the building was pushed onto its new elevated foundation.


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