Funds needed to purchase clearcoat for ‘History of Theatre’ mural

LEWISTOWN – Funds are being raised to provide a protective coating for the “History of Theatre” mural in downtown Lewistown.

“It’s so important that we raise the money needed to clearcoat it so it’s preserved. It’s an amazing mural,” said Jim Tunall, executive director of the Juniata River Valley Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau.

The mural’s artist, Dwight Kirkland, said the life of the mural can be significantly extended by applying the clearcoat.

“In order for the mural to last another 20 years, we need to apply a clear coat to protect it from weather and people tagging it, or graffiti,” he said.

Tunall and Kirkland explained that the product needed to coat the mural isn’t just a sealer.

“It’s scrubbable, so you can get dirt and graffiti off of it, but it also preserves the paint,” Tunall said.

Kirkland said if someone decides to deface the mural, the paint on top of the clear coat could be removed by using certain chemicals.

But there’s a price to pay for quality, and in this case, it’s to the tune of about $3,500.

“The cost of the clearcoat per gallon is $110, and about 32 gallons are needed,” Kirkland said.

“It’s a significant amount of money and Dwight’s going to volunteer his time,” Tunall said.

That’s no small task.

“He has to brush it on. If he sprays it, the mist could get on vehicles and cause damage… The wind picks it up and it’s going to be all over the cars on the street. Even though it’s clear, you’re going to know it’s on your car,” Tunall said.

Tunall said covering the entire wall will take at least a week, particularly because it is so important to cover every inch of the mural. Brushing the coating on by hand requires a lot of attention because of the grooves in the wall.

The idea of protecting the mural is not new. At the mural’s dedication in November, the Mifflin-Juniata Council of the Arts raised $450, said Jenny Barron Landis, of the visitors bureau.

In addition to those funds, an online campaign with a goal of $3,000 has raised $425. Kirkland started the fund nine days ago on

There is still a long way to go. Tunall emphasizes the mural’s importance to the area.

“This is probably the primo location for a mural in the community because of the one-way traffic and visibility,” Tunall said.

Kirkland pointed to the clearcoat as a way to protect an investment and make it last so the mural can be viewed for years to come.

Tunall agrees. In fact, because of its central location, it is a key piece of the visitors bureau’s mural tour.

The mural tour includes “History of Theatre,” as well as seven more of Kirkland’s works and a few pieces by other artists.

Inside the Historic Courthouse, for example, there is a mural depicting the history and influence of the steel industry in Burnham. Tunall said the mural was first donated to Burnham High School and when the school closed and was sold, the mural was donated to the Mifflin County Historical Society.

Information on the mural tour is available online at

To donate to the clearcoat fundraiser, visit or send a check with “Mural” written in the memo line to JRV Chamber of Commerce, 1 W. Market St., Lewistown, PA 17044.