It’s the final days for Restoring an American Treasure: The Panorama of the Monumental Grandeur of the Mississippi Valley at the Saint Louis Art Museum.
The exhibit focuses on a massive 19th century work of art depicting the Mississippi Valley, the only surviving work of its kind, as it is being restored.
It closes Monday, Sept. 3. Admission to the exhibit is free.
The unique and ambitious conservation project is working to restore this historic treasure of local significance.
The work measures 348 feet long by 7 feet 9 inches tall and comprises 25 scenes.
According to the Art Museum: “While the subjects in Panorama vary widely across time and cultures, the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers serve as the backdrop for many of the scenes. The scenes present sensationalized versions of historic moments — the burial of Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto and an 18th-century battle — as well as depictions of the activities of 19th-century Native Americans, views of ancient mound complexes with steamboats passing, the excavation of a mastodon skeleton, and a natural disaster.
“Panorama was commissioned by Dr. Montroville W. Dickeson and painted by artist John J. Egan. In the 1850s, Dickeson toured with Panorama, giving his own live narration of the 25 scenes. Both works of art and theatrical enterprises, panoramas were presented to audiences as forms of entertainment and education about parts of the world audience members might never see in person.”
“Moving panoramas of the Mississippi River proliferated during the mid-19th century and became a cultural phenomenon,” Janeen Turk, senior curatorial assistant at the Art Museum said. “Panorama is a truly remarkable work, both in scale and historical importance.”
The Museum assembled a group of conservators to restore the c.1850 painting over two summers. The fully-restored Panorama will eventually be installed in the Museum’s American Art Galleries.
The Saint Louis Art Museum is located in Forest Park.