MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It took more than a year and a half, but six new murals are now on display at the historic Union Depot in St. Paul.

Each mural depicts a significant time period in the history of the railroads, the City of St. Paul and the Depot itself.

The modern medium, utilized by artist Ralph Gilbert, paints the story of Minnesota rail history, on the 16-foot high murals.

“This is an aluminum honeycomb interior, exactly like an aircraft wing,” Gilbert said. “The first of the panels is about the region prior to the advent of the railroad.”

Other themes include early immigrants to Minnesota, African-American roles on the railroad, and the Union Depot during the wars.

“I spent a year preparing, that’s both historical research, but also doing numerous drawings, water colors, paintings, figure studies,” Gilbert said.

The artist then spent seven months painting using an interesting method — he painted them simultaneously, working his way up on each mural in increments of 20 percent.

Consistency was his goal in a collection of artwork that honors Minnesota’s diverse culture and the proud history of a St. Paul landmark.

“The space itself is breathtaking and the opportunity to do a public work in this space that rises to the quality level at which this space has been renovated is a wonderful challenge,” Gilbert said. “I was very honored to be invited to do it.”

The murals are the only artworks at the Depot that are at eye-level. Despite their massive size, each mural panel weighs only 65 pounds.

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