Natural resources mural renewal underway
7/8/2013
One of most iconic symbols of the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point will get a facelift, beginning the week of July 8.
The Trainer Natural Resources Building mosaic mural will undergo renewal during the next two to three weeks, weather permitting. A 60-foot boom will arrive on campus Tuesday, July 9.
A two-person crew will use a water-based cleansing solution and hand pressure to clean the glazed tile. They will remove nearly 30 years of accumulated sediment that has diminished the appearance of the mural on the south face of the Trainer building.
The mural, completed in 1982, was designed by Art Professor Richard Schneider, now retired, at then-chancellor Lee Dreyfus’ request. The initial design idea in 1975 focused on Old Main and its cupola. It was broadened to represent Portage County, the state of Wisconsin, its history and natural resources, including symbols of the newly built College of Natural Resources.
The design was divided into 286,200 tiny squares. Using computer technology, each was analyzed for light/dark value on a 28-step scale. A committee selected 28 of Schneider’s designs representing natural resources disciplines to match the light-dark scale needed to create the larger mural images.
Conrad Schmitt Studios, Inc. of New Berlin examined the mural in May and found it to be in good condition structurally with tiles soundly adhering. Sediment has accumulated over time, dulling the shiny reflection and stenciled image, especially around caulk. Earlier concerns about possible color shift from ultraviolet damage, ceramic glaze deterioration or mineral leaching were not realized.
A biodegradable, nonacidic, nonabrasive product will be used on the tile. It has been reviewed by the university’s Environmental Health and Safety Office and chemical hygiene officer. Work procedures are in place to limit potential soil contamination and plant damage.
About the mural: Construction began in 1977 after more than $100,000 in gifts and materials were donated. For the next four years, volunteers from campus and the community used silk screens to handprint a dark brown glaze on beige, two- by two-inch ceramic tiles. Tiles were fired in kilns to 1,350 degrees Fahrenheit so they would withstand varying temperatures and humidity.
In 1981, tiles were laid in coded sections, which were pasted together, then cemented to “wonderboards” of concrete and fiberglass. The panels were attached to steel channels anchored to the wall. The mural is 51 feet high and 150 feet long.
Because this project involved so many different people, funding sources and thousands of tiles, it was named after the nation’s motto, “E Pluribus Unum” or “From Many, One.”

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