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

Sep 12, 2016

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.

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

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.