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Moral of This Story: Murals to Raise Morale at Bush Library

If you've been to the Bush Library before and have designs on going back come November, you probably won't recognize the place. As renovations continue, one of the big changes to keep an eye out for are the murals.

Look at the big picture when it comes to the Bush Library's renovations, and Michael Baughman is in charge of...well, the big pictures.

"Ninety percent of my business right now is grand formal murals," said Baughman. "I've been a wall-covering contractor for 20 years, and doing murals since a little over 2000."

That's when George Bush's Library was three years old. Now going on ten and undergoing major renovations, the California-based paperhanger is hanging out near blank walls. His routine is simple, yet necessarily precise. Every spread of paste on the walls are meticulous. Every millimeter of alignment of the canvas on that wall is measured.

"Any mural I'm putting up, I want to make sure it's done correctly and the best it can be done," Baughman said. "I want things absolutely perfect in here."

What Michael worked on Thursday afternoon was the fourth mural that he had hung so far. The fifth sat rolled up just a few week away: the state dining room. In all, some 30 murals will be hung in the refurbished Bush Library.

"I think they'll add a real depth and sense of scale to our visitors," said Brian Blake with the library, "and they'll also provide a very dramatic backdrop, such as the White House mural that highlights our symbols of the presidency exhibit."

Other murals up so far include pictures of oil rigs the president worked on earlier in life, a World War II-era image of naval vessels Mr. Bush served aboard, and the General Assembly hall of the United Nations.

Baughman has put up prints for numerous museums, resorts and even car companies. Asked what is so satisfying about any of his projects, he said, "when you're done, standing back and seeing what's done, and to me, the respect that you get from the other tradespeople when you're doing a project that a lot of people cannot do.

Could a lot of people do the Bush Library project?

"My opinion, to the quality that's expected, or at least what I'm expecting out of myself, no," he said.

You might say Baughman is in search of a presidential seal of approval.

"I'm very happy to do it," he said. "I was thrilled to get the opportunity to do it because it's a great honor to do work in a presidential museum. It's a once-in-a-lifetime-type project as far as I'm concerned."

After all, it's not everyone someone can say they helped construct the Oval Office. That's the mural now applied to the walls thanks to Baughman.

The California-based contractors will be back home next week to gather up the next set of materials needed for work on the library. They are still on-target for a grand re-opening in early November, in time for the tenth anniversary of the library.


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