Restor­ing the Past

The Hock­a­day Mu­seum has re­stored seven mu­rals from Glacier Na­tional Park.

Western Art Collector - - WESTERN ART NEWS -

When early visi­tors to Glacier Na­tional Park vis­ited the Glacier Park Lodge they im­me­di­ately saw won­der­ful mu­rals that dec­o­rated the lodge walls. When the lodges were re­mod­eled in the 1950s, some of the mu­rals were cut from their mold­ings, re­moved from their pan­els, rolled up and thrown away—seem­ingly lost for­ever.

But 15 of the mu­rals were saved and stored at the home of Leona and Robert Brown, who passed them down to their grand­daugh­ter Leanne and her hus­band Alan Gold­hahn. In Septem­ber of 2012, Leanne do­nated the mu­rals to the Hock­a­day Mu­seum of Art in Kal­ispell, Mon­tana, in mem­ory of her grand­par­ents, Leona and Robert. Now seven of those mu­rals have been re­stored and are now on view at three lo­ca­tions in Mon­tana: three are on per­ma­nent dis­play at the Hock­a­day; two are on view at the O’shaugh­nessy Cen­ter of White­fish, Mon­tana; and an­other is on view at the Lake County Court­house of Pol­son, Mon­tana.

The mu­rals were com­mis­sioned by Louis Hill, pres­i­dent of the

Great North­ern Rail­way, who fa­vored eclec­tic Vic­to­rian and West­ern themes and filled the lodges with paint­ings, pho­to­graphs and ar­ti­facts. The mu­rals were com­mis­sioned to fill the long hor­i­zon­tal spa­ces above the wain­scot­ing. Ac­cord­ing to the Hock­a­day, “The mu­rals ap­pear to be cre­ated from pho­to­graphs and were painted us­ing wa­ter­based tem­pera on can­vas stretched on panel. The scenic pan­els cov­ered hun­dreds of square feet and ap­peared in a 1939 Glacier Park Lodge in­ven­tory as ‘51 water­color pan­els.’ There is some ev­i­dence that John Fery, the most fa­mous of the Glacier Na­tional Park artists, in­tended to paint these pan­els as he had drawn up some pre­lim­i­nary sketches. In­stead,

Hill de­cided to hire a mu­ral­ist to ex­pe­dite the process.”

It is not known who painted the mu­rals, or even how many artists were in­volved. The paint­ings are not signed and there is no his­tory or record of who the artist was. There are num­bers and lo­ca­tions on the backs of the pan­els iden­ti­fy­ing where they were hung in Glacier Park Lodge.

For more in­for­ma­tion about the mu­rals and their restora­tion visit www.hock­a­day­mu­seum.org.

Mu­ral No. 7, of St. Mary Lodge, on dis­play at the Lake County Court­house in Pol­son, Mon­tana.

Far left: Mu­ral No. 2, on dis­play at the Hock­a­day Mu­seum of Art in Kal­ispell, Mon­tana.

Left: Mu­ral No. 3, on dis­play at the O’shaugh­nessy Cen­ter in White­fish, Mon­tana.

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