October 7, 2019

Project to restore murals at Grand Canyon watchtower done

Crews have been working over the past four years to conserve murals created in the 1930s.

Desert view mural VIEW LARGER Visitors observe murals inside of the Desert View Watchtower at the Grand Canyon, in this National Parks Service media release photo.
NPS/Sandy Graham

GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK — A project to conserve murals inside a historic watchtower near the Grand Canyon's east entrance is complete.

Desert view conservation VIEW LARGER Conservation work taking place in the Desert View Watchtower.
NPS/Mary Sullivan

The 1930s murals in the Desert View Watchtower have been worn down by weather and visitors over decades.

Crews have been working over the past four years to conserve them. Workers filled deep gouges in window sills and staircases where visitors had carved names. They removed writing left in marker, nail polish or pen.

They also removed salt deposits and tried to preserve what was left of the pigment in the murals.

Desert View NP VIEW LARGER Architect Mary Colter modeled Desert View Watchtower after Ancestral Puebloan buildings.
National Parks Service

Grant funding covered much of the project.

Famed architect Mary Colter designed the watchtower, and Fred Kabotie and Fred Geary painted the murals.

The 70-foot watchtower gives visitors expansive views of the painted desert and the Little Colorado River gorge.

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