| Follow Us:

Featured Posts

Voice of Denver: Lost Treasure Revealed at DU's Reiman Theater

Initial plans for the renovation called for commissioning a replica, not a restoration.

Painted in 1929 by John Edward Thompson, a large Shakespearean mural frames the stage.

 After years of restoration, Thompson's mural has been restored to near original condition.

In 1930, one year after its unveiling, Thompson's mural was covered up with layers of black paint.

Portions of the mural were damaged beyond repair and recreated during the restoration process.

A diagram of the restoration process was created by DU's art conservators and their students. ?

Lost for nearly a century, an incredible work of art was recently restored with the re-opening of the Reiman Theater in historic Margery Reed Hall at the University of Denver (DU). Formerly known as the Little Theatre, the venue was renamed in honor of DU trustee and arts patron Scott Reiman.
Painted by leading Colorado artist John Edward Thompson in 1929, the large proscenium arch framing the theater stage features a vibrant mural highlighting characters from Shakespeare plays. Thompson, often called the "Dean of Colorado Painters," is largely credited for introducing Colorado to modern art in the 1920s.
 
In early 1931 -- barely one year after its unveiling -- Thompson's mural was covered with layers of black paint by then-theatre director Walter Sinclair, and was believed to be destroyed.
 
The public clash following the mural's defacement was heated. Thompson was quoted in the January 27, 1931, Denver Post as saying, “I know now why some men, otherwise law-abiding, sometimes commit murder.”
 
Despite the initial controversy, this artistic treasure faded from memory and was lost for 76 years. When architects began planning for restoration of the theater space, they hoped to replicate Thompson's work based on an old black and white photo of the mural.A diagram of the restoration process was created by DU's art conservators and their students. ?
 
It was then, in 2007, that the surviving mural was discovered beneath countless layers of black paint by DU Art Collections curator Dan Jacobs. After a significant fundraising effort, a team of DU students worked alongside professional art conservators, including a team from the Western Center for the Conservation of Fine Arts on the lengthy and painstaking restoration process. As a result of this effort, this exquisite frame to the Reiman Theater has now been restored to near original condition.
 
Restoration of the Thompson mural is the latest chapter in this incredible journey of creation, loss and return to glory as one of the University of Denver Art Collections' most prized assets.
 
We are honored to share the remarkable story of this piece of Colorado history.
 
Scott Reiman is Founder and President of Denver-based private-investment company Hexagon and a longtime patron of the arts. He serves as a University of Denver trustee and was pleased to support the Thompson mural restoration.
 
Dan Jacobs is Curator of the University of Denver Art Collections and Director of the University's Vicki Myhren Gallery. In the course of research on artist John E. Thompson, he discovered the Shakespeare mural in 2007 and directed its restoration.

Voice of Denver is a featured post from Denver's entrepreneurs, experts and raconteurs. Contact us if you'd like to stand on our soapbox.
Signup for Email Alerts
Signup for Email Alerts

Related Content