Professor uncovers murals behind SDSU walls

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SAN DIEGO – A San Diego State University archaeology professor is on a campus-wide expedition to find murals hidden behind the school walls.

Nearly 9 years ago, campus workers discovered the first two murals while repairing ceiling tiles in the Hardy Tower building. They contacted professor Seth Mallios, who gathered a team for the renovation project.

murals_aliceinwonderlandNow the two paintings, which date back to the 1930s are restored and hanging in the campus library.

“That led to a kind of mural fever on campus,” said Mallios. “Where we started finding a bunch more.”

The next wall Mallios hopes to tear apart is in the same building. Behind many coats of white paint is an Alice in Wonderland mural from the 1940s.

Mallios said excavating the painting would cost about $100,000. Once the money is raised the project will take about two months. So far, the school has raised about half.

“We face them by putting all sorts of protective covers on the front,” said Mallios. “And then we chip behind the mural and lift it off the wall. It’s expensive. It’s time consuming and it’s very delicate work. There are no guarantees it’s going to work, but the results are pretty spectacular.”

The Alice in Wonderland artwork will eventually go in the children’s section of the SDSU library.

A 1940s Odysseus painting is also on the list of excavation projects.

Mallios said there are many other murals on campus still waiting to be discovered.

“There’s just about no building on campus,” said Mallios. “That I haven’t crawled under and over trying to find hidden treasures here. This place is pretty amazing in terms of all the nooks and crannies and there are more treasures to be found.”

If you’d like to donate to the Alice in Wonderland mural conservation project you can find more information on the SDSU website.

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