FORT HARRISON — The Montana Military Museum plans to host the First Special Service Force Association in 2022 to remember its service and mural at Fort Harrison. Work needs to be done to the mural before showcasing it to the conference.
During World War II, the Fort Harrison Servicemen's Club was used by units who were training for combat at the Fort. The building currently serves as a large training classroom and social space. It hosts about 10,000 personnel every year.
Tucked away in the back is a mural celebrating the First Special Service Force and those who served during World War II.
“What's unique about it, we have probably the first depiction of women in military service during World War II,” says Ray Read, the Museum Director. “That's a key element because you didn't find that in any of the murals. There's only three [murals] that I've identified that depicted this kind of material where it has women center-massed."
According to Read, the mural was painted in the 1940’s and the material has been deteriorating since then.
"It's been up there for almost 80 years now. It has not been ever treated, we never restored it or anything like that,” says Read. “We just looked at it, we’ve used it, we've abused it. So what we're in the process of doing right now is, we chose this last fall, to make it a project to restore that."
Matt Egan is the artist in charge of bringing the 27,000 square inch mural back to life. He plans to spend about two months cleaning, re-painting and restoring. He says the biggest challenge is the unknowns.
“There are some hollow spots. There are some spots that have severe damage that we can't see,” says Egan, a Restoration Artist. “There is also a piece [on the mural] that we call 'the big spot.' It's been up there for over decades and nobody knows what it is so we are going to start there."
The Military Museum says they will need about $10,000 to complete the project.
The museum says they will begin restoring the mural once they’ve gathered the funds.
The museum is also selling small copies of the mural that you can purchase at their facility.