Challenger Space Center mural gifted to Peoria Unified

By Bette Sharpe, Special to Independent Newsmedia

Executive Director at Arizona Challenger Space Center Beverly Swayman presented Robert McCall’s last 360-degree mural “Tour of the Universe” to the Peoria Unified School District, Nov. 9, at the district’s regularly scheduled board meeting. The mural has a conservative value of $250,000.

The building, at 21170 N. 83rd Ave., is former home of the Arizona Challenger Space Center, before PUSD took ownership of it in October. It allowed visitors to stand in the rotunda and gaze in wonder at the four-story high mural by Mr. McCall, a renowned space painter and illustrator. Mr. McCall’s masterpiece is a 360-degree mural that uses 27,000 square feet of canvas and took six months to install.

“The board of directors and management team of the Challenger Space Center of Arizona are pleased that the legacy of Robert McCall will be preserved for generations to come,” Ms. Swayman said. “This presentation officially transfers ownership to PUSD, and while we would have liked to be have been able to take it to our new location, we have been able to capture it in video and will be able to offer it in virtual reality at our new location as well.”

Accepting the certificate of ownership for the mural on behalf of the district were Barbara Coakley, director of PUSD’s Medical, Engineering and Technology Professional Academy, and Robert Panzer, arts education director. Ms. Swayman also presented the district with a binder that carries the story of this work, panel-by-panel. Ms. Swayman felt this would be appreciated by students with interests in the science and engineering fields represented in the mural as well as the for the art. Mr. McCall’s work can live on for generations because of projects like this one, she said.

The Arizona Challenger Space Center closed its Peoria location in August, and found a temporary location at Metro Center, 9617 N. Metro Parkway West, Ste. 2214, Phoenix. The temporary location gives the center time to continue its education projects while continuing to look for a permanent home. When the Arizona Challenger Space Center completes its re-installation, it will re-open to the public.

“The board of directors and management team of the Challenger Space Center of Arizona are pleased that the legacy of Robert McCall will be preserved for generations to come,” Ms. Swayman said. “This presentation officially transfers ownership to PUSD and while we would have liked to be have been able to take it to our new location, we have been able to capture it in video and will be able to offer it in virtual reality at our new location as well.”

Editor’s note: Ms. Sharpe photographs and writes for Glendale Daily Planet.



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