Murals in UGL tunnel depict aspects of University’s 150-year history


Brian Bauer

Students study in the tunnel connecting the UGL and the Main Library. The murals were recently added to celebrate the University’s history.

By Jessica Berbey , Staff Writer

Part of the new aesthetic of the Espresso Royale Café in the Undergraduate Library celebrates the University’s 150 year history.

Multiple murals were added in the construction project to the the tunnel between the Main Library and the UGL.

The murals are made up of vintage photographs, which represent the University’s history and cultural significance since it was founded in 1867. The material and photos are from the University Archives. The primary focus is to depict the historical richness and diversity of the University.

“The Undergraduate Library traces its roots to 1949 when the University’s Galesburg branch closed and its 25,000 volumes were placed in the Library’s first floor reading room,” according to the UIHistories Project: A History of the University of Illinois.

Official plans to have the Undergraduate Library constructed were devised in 1959. It was built seven years later in 1966.

The tunnel renovations began in the summer of 2016, to implement a more cafe-like interior to complement the Espresso Royale in the UGL.

The murals were proposed by the design consultants for the Espresso Royale Café remodeling project, said Jeffrey Schrader, assistant dean of libraries for facilities.

In a previous The Daily Illini article written in August, Reference Services Librarian David Ward said that both the reconstruction of the tunnel and the Espresso Royale renovations were meant to increase student satisfaction.

“I’m hoping that this is something that will show the students that we’re trying to make coming to the library as positive an experience as possible,” Ward said.

Since the renovations, some students have noticed that the tunnel has been used more frequently.

“I think the mural was a good idea because it adds more character to our University, and it’s cool that it’s in a more obscure area,” said Olivia Massey, freshman in LAS.

Massey said that renovations such as the mural are essential because they make the University unique and more interesting.

“It is definitely something that catches the eye and that other schools don’t have, since these pictures are distinctive to the University,” she said.

Like Massey, Divya Aggarwal, freshman in LAS, also thinks the murals add character to the University.

“It’s very pretty, and it not only adds character, but it contributes to the overall ambiance of the tunnel’s cafe,” Aggarwal said. “It’s probably my favorite artifact here at the University.”

Josh Cohen, junior in LAS, said that the mural is not only appealing to look at, but that it successfully represents the aspects of the University students don’t often emphasize.

“The mural does a great job of incorporating aspects of our community’s history into a beautiful piece of art,” Cohen said. “And what better place for learning about history than a library.”

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