A projection onto the dome of the Mission Dolores Basilica exposed for the first time in over two hundred years imagery of two sacred hearts that had been hidden behind the Mission Dolores altar piece of 1796.
With Presidio Trust Archaeologist, Eric Blind, we devised a systematic process to photograph the mural from behind the altar allowing it to be projected and displayed to the public for the first time. With this project new media and digital technology gave us the opportunity to exhibit the past in a present context through the medium of projection. The computer lends itself to collecting historic imagery into a form that will allow wider access to the mural without adverse affect. The ability to publicly present this information via the internet or projection allows the public access to this valuable piece of native California history.
As of 2023, it has been nearly 20 years since I first stood above the altar screen of San Francisco's, Mission Dolores, lowered a camera and began an effort to record the hidden painting. I have continued this project and advocacy for the mural through various iterations. You can learn more via the Mission Dolores Mural website and my essay, California’s Hidden Sacred Mural: The History of the Painted Adobe Reredos at Mission Dolores.
This front page article written by Carl Nolte for the San Francisco Chronicle about our project to digitally record the hidden 18th Mission Dolores mural led to national media coverage and recognition for our attempt to preserve a precious piece of early colonial California history.
Varied media outlets have covered the mural including a headline story in the San Francisco Chronicle, television coverage on most local news stations as well as radio coverage on National Public radio as far as Boston. Digital renderings of the artwork have been used by Senator Barbara Boxer in arguing for funding for the restoration of the missions. The project received the California Governor’s Historic Preservation Award for 2004.
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