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Crown Fine Art were recently selected to undertake the move and installation of Walter Bayes's painting The Underworld for the Imperial War Museum in London.

The 1918 first world war piece was previously on display at the IWM Manchester and was transported to London to form a central part of the IWM’s permanent display.

To get the gigantic 2540 by 5486mm oil canvas painting into the museum safely, the building’s front doors were removed.

Manoeuvring the painting proved to be challenging for the team as they had to bring the painting into the building with limited access and carry it down a split-level staircase. Once inside the building, Crown’s team of technicians, carefully unpacked the artwork from a purpose built crate and set up a hoist using safety ropes to lower it down the flight of stairs.

The team rested the delicate artwork on specialist foam while carrying out technical checks to confirm the accuracy of the measurements before hanging the lengthy canvas on the wall.  With larger pieces it’s essential to be precise as a disproportionate measurement of even a few millimetres can create an uneven installation.

Special fixings were also attached to the bottom of the artwork to preserve the quality and avoid the wood bowing over time.

This move took place after the substantial painting was re-stretched to increase the integrity of the artwork for transportation and safe long term display.

The Crown Fine Art team worked late into the evening in order to complete the project with minimal disruption to the gallery.

Set in the museum’s ground floor atrium, the work depicts civilians sheltering from an air raid in the tunnels and on the platform at Elephant and Castle underground station. It sits among a collection of over 400 fascinating objects which help to tell the story of conflict in Britain and the former empire chronologically from 1914 to the present day.

A pleased IWM London commented: "This vibrant artwork is displayed in our Atrium at IWM London as part of our Witnesses to War display, not only for its intriguing disposition but because of the resonance it has with the local area. This was all made possible by the professional and reliable service provided by Crown Fine Art."

Some key pieces in the collection that bear witness to the force, fury and physicality of the war, include the wreckage of a Reuters Land Rover, German V2 bomb, German V1 Flying Bomb (Doodlebug), 13-Pounder Gun (Nery Gun), British Spitfire Mark 1A Aeroplane, Harrier GR9, T34 Tank, and Baghdad car. 

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