- Associated Press - Saturday, May 31, 2014

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Lincoln city officials and art experts are at odds over what to do with a large mural that covers the west exterior wall of the Pershing Center, set to be demolished in the next year or two.

City leaders say that saving the mural, made up of more than 763,000 inch-square tiles, is too expensive, the Lincoln Journal Star (https://bit.ly/1oHQVdw ) reported.

Others disagree.

George Neubert, former director of the Sheldon Art Gallery and Sculpture Garden, said the mural is a historical and cultural icon for the city and worth the effort to save.

“I just think it would be unfortunate to destroy it,” Neubert said.

The mural is more than 140 feet wide and 38 feet tall and depicts events that took place in the municipal arena - like boxing, basketball, dancing and ice skating.

Designed by two artists, Leonard Thiessen and Bill J. Hammon, it was the largest work of its kind in the United States when it was installed in the mid-1950s.

The mural is not a stand-alone piece of work, noted Ed Zimmer, city planner and historian. It is an integral part of the building that, once separated from the building, loses much of its importance, he said.

A 2009 study of Pershing’s condition and its potential future uses found the mural to be in “fair to poor condition.”

There’s damage to the tiles from bullet holes and from water, said Cleve Reeves, an architect who oversaw the study.

University of Nebraska-Lincoln art professor Aaron Holz said if the mural is destroyed, future generations will look back and wish at least some of it had been saved.

“It’s no Penn Station, but it is worth having some of it saved,” Holz said.

A public discussion will be held before any final decision is made on the mural’s fate, Zimmer said.

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Information from: Lincoln Journal Star, https://www.journalstar.com


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