How the Museum's Murals Came Back to Life

How the Museum's Murals Came Back to Life

From Balboa Park Committee of 100: The husband and wife team of Richard Keit and Mary Kennedy, owners of RTK Studios, tell the story of the re-creation of the San Diego Automotive Museum murals.

Museum Murals

In December 2015, RTK Studios in Ojai, Calif., was commissioned to recreate the once-prestigious murals on the 1935 California State Building (now the San Diego Automotive Museum) in durable ceramic tile.

Black and white photos were provided as references, though considering the sizable scale of the murals, most historical details sadly were unrecognizable. Careful computer manipulations were necessary, though it risked degrading precious visual information. Sleuthing out the details involved endless months of research leaving much to be conjured inhouse and creating a shared rendition of the final artwork.

One rather frustrating obstacle, a strong vertical, dark and muddled on the “Industry” mural, at long last came to represent the monumental Colorado River Aqueduct, constructed from 1933 to 1939. All factors needed to be historically accurate to this era heralding the end of the Great Depression.