DENVER (CBS4) – The University of Denver has recently uncovered a piece of its history. It’s a mural that was painted 80 years ago, painted over in black, and then forgotten. Now students, restorers and local artists have brought it back to its original glory.
“This mural was painted in 1929, a few months after this building opened,” said Dan Jacobs, the curator of the art collection at the University of Denver.
The mural depicts Shakespeare and scenes from several of his works, including “Macbeth,” “Romeo and Juliet,” “Henry the 8th,” and “The Merry Wives of Windsor.” It was painted by John Thompson who is often called the “Dean of Colorado Painters.”
“He was considered a modern painter and he had just joined the University of Denver,” Jacobs explained.
The mural covers the proscenium arch at Reiman Theatre on the DU Campus. A year after the mural was painted it was painted over with black paint by the new theater director.
“One of the reasons that he claimed that he needed to get rid of this mural was that Shakespeare was old-fashioned and he was no longer going to produce Shakespeare,” Jacobs told CBS4.
The mural was all but forgotten. Seventy-five years later Jacobs rediscovered the art.
“We actually were able to see little traces of it that were still unpainted,” he said.
Over the course of 7 years, restorers and students painstakingly removed the black paint and then artists carefully returned the painting to its original glory.
“It’s part of the DU history that we’re actively reclaiming,” Jacobs said.
Jacobs said that he was worried that the students would grow tired of the long, slow process of restoring the art, but one young lady said the work made her feel like Indiana Jones.
–Written for CBSDenver.com by Special Projects Producer Libby Smith