Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport mural removal

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“The Phoenix” mural is a massive piece of art that has greeted travelers at Sky Harbor’s Terminal-2 for the past 60 years but with the recent “closure” of Terminal-2, the mural did some traveling of its own. We learned more from Sky Harbor Museum Director, Gary Martelli.

In the lobby of Terminal-2 the 75 foot wide, three panel, mural told the story of the Valley of the Sun’s past present and future of the time when it was first constructed in 1962.

Although it was difficult to see from afar, the piece is very dimensional, made from 52 different materials that of which include sand from different areas of the state like the Navajo reservation, the Grand Canyon, and Oak Creek, seashells and gemstones. Styrofoam was used to build up different dimensions throughout the piece.

During it’s time, it was considered a leap forward in comparison to traditional murals.

With the Terminal-2 closure, the airport was forced to move the mural into storage. However, this was not easy due to the mural’s size. The moving company had to remove the exterior wall from the back of the mural, section by section. “Because of all the materials and everything, it’s not just like taking a canvas of the wall,” Martelli said.

It is in the process of being transferred to a new facility for rental cars in the area. The airport is planning to have a reveal around this September. The rental car center will also have some display areas for an exhibition that will allow space to add some information and an interpretation of the mural.

Gary Martelli, Phoenix Airport Museum Director

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