The Purpose of Life Mural From the 1964 World’s Fair – Will It Be Saved From Demolition? Part 1

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The Purpose of Life- Mural Painted for NY 1964 World's Fair

The LDS mural entitled The Purpose of Life,┬ápainted for the booth of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) at the 1964 World’s Fair, has been located in the Hyde Park Chapel in London, England ever since. This image was hugely successful and popular receiving world wide recognition as it was used in Church curriculum, PR and evangelical pamphlets, on film strips and for other media world wide.

The Hyde Park Chapel is now slated to undergo massive renovation in anticipation of the 2012 Olympics in London. This renovation will involve demolition as they install Visitor Center style displays and the mural was slated to be destroyed. One of the problems of reusing the mural is its size: approximately 10′ x 30′. For the last 6 month there have been a going back and forth of discussion about keeping the mural but in the end, the church headquarters decided to decline.

That’s when several well energized people in the LDS Historical Department jumped into gear with the suggestion of donating the removed mural to one of the church schools. This met with a cautious favorable nod if all the details like budgets can fall into place. But the mural, once it is be removed and conserved, will be slated for donation to Brigham Young University Idaho, if all is successful. It is not known yet what they will do with the mural.

So, tomorrow, Wed. August 24th I’m catching a non stop to London. I arrive at noon on Thurs. and get over to the Hyde Park Chapel where I test the mural to determine the in’s and out’s of the removal and budget. I then have a meeting with the construction guys at about 3 pm… then, depending on our discussions of the details of the project we’ll see if I’m going to be there 1 day or for the next two weeks while I immediately remove the mural.

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Also, spread the good word to others who may be interested in art history, church history, LDS art etc. Stay in touch! Videos and more will follow!

About Scott Haskins

Scott M. Haskins has been in the field of professional art conservation since 1975. He studied and worked doing mural and painting conservation in Italy until 1979. He headed up the painting conservation laboratory at Brigham Young University for the BYU Permanent Art Collection and the LDS HIstorical Department until 1984. He works from Santa Barbara, CA providing art conservation services nationwide. He is also the author of "How To Save Your Stuff From A Disaster."
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6 Responses to The Purpose of Life Mural From the 1964 World’s Fair – Will It Be Saved From Demolition? Part 1

  1. Josh Barron says:

    You really have the coolest job on the planet. I’ve always thought so.

  2. Emily says:

    I just came from London a month ago. Depending on when you start the project you may want to see the Da Vinci exhibition at the National Gallery starting the 9th of November (my birthday LOL). They will have the twin Virgin of the Rocks there. Have a safe flight!

    • Scott Haskins says:

      Thanks for the heads up Emily. If I have time I’ll check it out but it might only be an overnighter red eye and nothing more than a quick consultation.

  3. Walter says:

    Boy do I remember these images from the film strip! You are making a difference by saving this art! Good luck,
    ‘Walter

  4. Lynne says:

    Wonderful project. Thank you for saving this art! I signed up for the updates and emails from the mormon art conservation blog. Good luck on your trip!
    Lynne

  5. Glen says:

    Scott, thanks for this email. You are doing great things. Glad BYU IDaho will have this item.

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