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The hottest exhibit at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) right now is a 340-ton boulder.

Part of an outdoor art installation called Levitated Mass, this unlikely local celebrity has unified Southern California, from its humble beginnings in a rock quarry to its final placement at the museum, with a much-buzzed-about unveiling in June.

The massive monolith, handpicked by artist Michael Heizer, was transported from a quarry in Riverside, California, 60 miles east of Los Angeles, for 11 days on a slow-moving truck through four Southern California counties on closed city streets until it reached its destination at LACMA. The entire journey, which was privately funded, cost $10 million.

Local news organisations eagerly reported on the rock’s travels while Southern Californians celebrated with impromptu street parties along the boulder’s route. Finally, the granite giant was laid to rest hovering over a 456ft-long, 15ft deep walkway at the museum, where visitors can walk beneath the massive rock to admire its immensity against the sky.

Heizer intended the entire exhibit to speak to “the expanse of art history, from ancient traditions of creating artworks from megalithic stone, to modern forms of abstract geometries and cutting-edge feats of engineering.” But the mass is already fulfilling its destiny as a favourite photo opportunity for tourists who pose in front of it with a hand uplifted, as if they’re holding up the rock itself.

Levitated Mass is located on LACMA’s Resnick North Lawn and is free to the public.

Caroline Pardilla is the Los Angeles Localite for BBC Travel. She also writes Carolineoncrack.com.

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