Paintbrushes Ready – Seven Reasons to Make a Mural

Whitehall, Montana, uses murals to remind people of their place on the Lewis & Clark Voyage of Discovery route.

Whitehall, Montana, uses murals to remind people of their place on the Lewis & Clark Voyage of Discovery route.

 

 

Like banners, murals are another medium that offer some unique values in communities or natural and cultural heritage sites. We see them used effectively in some places, used poorly in others and often not used when they might be a great option. Here are some good reasons to consider them in your setting.

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Murals convey information and a sense of place without the barrier of a specific language. People from diverse cultures can enjoy them and usually understand their messages. John Medina’s “Brain Rules” point out that visuals trump all other senses.
  2. Murals are usually less expensive to turn a large wall or space into a compelling part of the experience. They do require maintenance so choosing a method and medium that can be refreshed can be important. Letting them weather or degrade is usually not desirable but actually works in some
    A habitat mural at Elk Island National Park in Saskatchewan sets the scene for other exhibits in the Visitor Center.

    A habitat mural at Elk Island National Park in Saskatchewan sets the scene for other exhibits in the Visitor Center.

    settings where the desired feeling is one of times past.

  3. A mural can provide context for habitat next to a live animal exhibit. Animals are so compelling that people usually will not read extensive labels nearby but a mural can help you envision the animal in its natural habitat or make the entire area seem to be in that specific habitat.
  4. Historic murals take us to another time and event. Many communities or parks were the setting for important events or the former homes of important people. A mural can visually bring the past into the present.
  5. Murals may be used to beautify a blighted wall, an electric box or blank corridor. An old brick wall, a concrete garage wall, a connecting corridor, utility boxes, or a stairwell can be brightened up with a thematically appropriate mural. Murals usually work better than placing signs in these walkways since they don’t require that people stop and read to absorb the thematic material. Murals on outdoor surfaces may also discourage vandals from tagging, particularly if local young people are involved in creating the artwork.
  6. Great murals strengthen the thematic identity of a community or site. Murals can be messengers that deliver the theme of the organization and show examples of it in action. Because they are created by an artist/illustrator, they can be designed to be very clear in meaning and message.
  7. Murals can be used to reveal hidden assets. A mural can reveal an asset you cannot easily display in another
    Utility boxes in Fort Collins, Colorado, are painted with varied scenes by local citizens.

    Utility boxes in Fort Collins, Colorado, are painted with varied scenes by local citizens.

    way. It could tell the story of technology infrastructure in the building such as a solar or wind system. It could show artifacts or documents not easily displayed due to fragility or rarity. It can be whimsical or realistic, showing details of plants and animals in ways that are more compelling than a single photograph.

– Tim Merriman

Tingatinga artwork on this mural at the Serengeti Visitor Center in Tanzania tells the management story for the park.

Tingatinga artwork on this mural at the Serengeti Visitor Center in Tanzania tells the management story for the park.

 

 

2 Responses to “Paintbrushes Ready – Seven Reasons to Make a Mural”

  1. corlainegardner Says:

    Good Morning Tim, I always enjoy your posts, and I certainly like the use of murals. We have just taken down a beautiful fabric mural of the prairies. It wrappes around two walls of our exhibit space. Part of the activity is a challenge to find a whole bunch of inhabitants of the prairies. We supply a booklet and a magnifying glass. It has been very popular with the public and school groups. And it is re-usable. We roll it up carefully, and will hang it up for a couple months again next spring.

    But….. there is one problem with your post. Elk Island National Park is in Alberta! I worked there with the bison and the elk and many school groups back in the distant past.

    Keep smiling Corlaine

    • heartfeltassociates Says:

      Hi Corlaine, I have a photo of your beautiful mural in my collection. Thanks for commenting and correcting my memory lapse. We did several trips in recent years to Saskatchewan and Alberta and I moved Elk Island in my memory, but it’s still in Alberta on the map. Always smiling, Tim.


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