Richmond museum unveils restored Arnautoff mural

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All photos by Mike Kinney.

By Mike Kinney

A once long-lost mural was unveiled following its restoration at the Richmond Museum of the Arts and Culture on Saturday.

The fully restored “Richmond Industrial City” was completed in 1941 by renowned artist Victor Arnautoff and had not been viewed for nearly four decades until it was unearthed in the basement of Richmond’s main post office in 2015. The Museum will use proceeds from Saturday’s unveiling event for maintenance and upkeep of the mural.

John Ziesenhenne, president of the museum’s Board of Directors, said the museum is proud to share the mural following an 8-year process to refurbish and restore it.

“With today’s ribbon-cutting ceremony of Arnautoff’s mural, it completes another chapter in the museum’s history,” Ziesenhenne said.

The mural was commissioned through the New Deal initiative under President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1939. Arnautoff was tasked with creating murals for a number of U.S. Postal Service locations across the country, including Richmond. Arnautoff was a protégé of muralist Diego Rivera, and the two artists did a series of the murals in Coit Tower in San Francisco along with 22 other muralists.

Richmond Industrial City” mural features a number of industries including the railways and the longshoremen. After it was finished, the mural was installed at the Nevin Avenue post office, but it was stored away in 1976 due to a building restoration project, unseen for decades.

A former executive director of the museum went about locating the lost mural. After some searching, the mural was found in 2015 in the basement of the post office relatively unharmed aside from some paint loss and a moderate amount of warping. The U.S. Postal Service entrusted the Richmond museum to lead the mural restoration project.

The mural is on display for viewing right now at the musuem located at 400 Nevin Ave. in Richmond. The museum opens Thursday through Saturday, 1-4 p.m. For more information, visit the museum’s website here.