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Large mosaic mural to move to new Capitol Campus location on Saturday



Picture of the mural

OLYMPIA – Crews have been gearing up to move a 28,000-pound mural from the mothballed General Administration Building to the new Helen Sommers Building, and expect to roll it into its new home on Feb. 23.

The mural by artist Jean C. Beall is more than 30 feet wide and 12 ½ feet tall. Commissioned by the State Capitol Committee in 1956, the mural depicts imagery from Washington State’s industrial and natural resources.

The mural is made of 150,000 small squares of Byzantine glass and stone called tesserae. Each piece was hand-cut in Venetian factories. The tesserae are adhered directly to the mural’s gently curved wall. 

“Preserving this mural is important,” said Bill Frare, Enterprise Services Assistant Director for Facility Professional Services. “It gives us a snapshot in time that celebrates the state’s rich natural resources, economy, labor and industries.”

The untitled mural is one of three significant works of art by a female artist on the Capitol Campus that are managed by Enterprise Services. The other works are Hydro Logic by Beliz Brother in the Helen Sommers building and Sea to Sky by Susan Point at the 11th Avenue entry to the Natural Resources Building.

About the move

Relocating the mural while minimizing damage to it presents a significant logistical challenge – especially as it must be moved in one piece. Moving it in one piece is important because the mural is not built in sections and does not have seams. It is pieced together like a puzzle.

The Department of Enterprise Services hired A to B Builders to perform the move. Schreiber Starling Whitehead Architects, which performed the design work for the move, remains engaged in the project as well.

Preparatory work has been ongoing throughout the month for the move:

  • Reinforcing and stabilizing the mural’s wall
  • Installing temporary supports under the GA Building lobby floor to support the weight of the mural and its wall
  • Building a steel frame under and around the mural and its wall

The day of the move crews will:

  • Lift the entire wall and steel superstructure, and set it on heavy-duty casters
  • Roll  it out of the GA Building
  • Lift it on to a flatbed truck and transport it to the Helen Sommers Building
  • Install the mural and its wall, utilizing the steel framing on the back side to support it

Finish work will continue throughout the week once the mural is installed in its new home.

Learn more

About the mural

Building artwork