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VPR's coverage of arts and culture in the region.

50-Foot Mural Depicting State History Donated To Vermont History Museum

Courtesy: National Life
A section of the "Tribute To Vermont" mural, which depicts 300 years of the state's history. The painting is moving from the headquarters of National Life Insurance Group, which commissioned the work, to the Vermont History Museum.

A historic 50-foot-long mural will be the centerpiece of a renovation planned at the Vermont History Museum in Montpelier.The mural, called Tribute to Vermont, was painted by the late artist Paul Sample. It was commissioned by National Life Insurance Group when the company opened its Montpelier headquarters in 1961.

The company is donating the mural to the museum. It is being removed from the National Life lobby and installed at the museum early next year when a space for it has been renovated.

Tribute to Vermont is a panoramic view of the last three centuries of Vermont’s settled history, from the arrival of Samuel de Champlain to the advent of the ski industry. In all it depicts 50 scenes, many of Vermont agrarian life.

According to the National Life, classes often visit the company to view the mural.

Stephen Perkins, executive director of the Vermont Historical Society, which runs the Vermont History Museum, says the mural is a learning tool that encourages the museum’s visitors to ponder Vermont’s past and present.

“I think for us it offers a great opportunity to orient people but also ask them a question: Do you see yourself in Vermont’s history? Do you see yourself in Vermont’s story? Of course it ends in 1960, so what would you paint for the rest of this mural?” says Perkins.

Credit Courtesy National Life
Artist Paul Sample, pictured here in the 1960s, was Dartmouth College's artist-in-residence at the time the mural was painted.

To accommodate the mural, the lobby of the historical society museum will be renovated, a project being underwritten by National Life.

Sample, a jazz musician and a former heavyweight boxer, was Dartmouth College’s artist-in-residence at the time the mural was painted. The college’s Hood Museum of Art has a large collection of the watercolorist’s work.

Steve has been with VPR since 1994, first serving as host of VPR’s public affairs program and then as a reporter, based in Central Vermont. Many VPR listeners recognize Steve for his special reports from Iran, providing a glimpse of this country that is usually hidden from the rest of the world. Prior to working with VPR, Steve served as program director for WNCS for 17 years, and also worked as news director for WCVR in Randolph. A graduate of Northern Arizona University, Steve also worked for stations in Phoenix and Tucson before moving to Vermont in 1972. Steve has been honored multiple times with national and regional Edward R. Murrow Awards for his VPR reporting, including a 2011 win for best documentary for his report, Afghanistan's Other War.
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