Painting the Floor Mural
The second room in Fossil Fragments: The Riddle of Human Origins features a floor mural of a portion of paleoanthropologist Mary Leakey’s archaeological site at Olduvai in Africa. Recreated to scale from her hand-drawn maps, the floor painting allow visitors to begin to understand the immense challenge of piecing together fossil evidence as they “enter” the site and walk over bone fragments and stone implements that lie scattered along the ground, just as Leakey excavated them.
The mural was painted by New England artist Tony Falcone, best known for his realistic “imaginistic” landscapes, cityscapes, and the monumental murals gracing numerous public spaces.
Falcone began the mural by spattering 5 colors of epoxy paint, one at a time, onto a finished epoxy floor to create the speckled background. Next he recreated Leakey’s site plans on paper, outlining the bones and stone implements and placing them according to her drawings. He then enlarged the drawing to a full-size paper “cartoon” and transferred the design to the epoxy floor by rubbing vine charcoal over perforated outlines of the drawing. This cartoon was carefully removed so as not to disturb the charcoal.
Starting in one corner and following the charcoal pattern, Falcone painted all the bones and stone implements in 5 colors, using 2 epoxy paint colors for the objects, a third color for the shadows, and 2 colors for highlights. Each color was mixed with a hardener, applied separately, and allowed to dry. Apprentice Victor A. Visockis assisted Falcone with the preparation and painting.