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Muralist Max Dowdle smiles at the camera.


IMS director Rick Luettich kneels down and paints a portion of the mural.


Muralist Max Dowdle in action on the ladder.


A number of people paint fishes on the mural with a crane in the background.

Mural, mural on the wall. Who’s the saltiest of them all?

The finished mural on the outside of the IMS building.Carolina’s marine lab has been a fixture in the coastal town of Morehead City, North Carolina, for 75 years. With support from UNC’s Arts Everywhere and as part of this year’s anniversary celebrations, the building got a much-needed facelift in the form of a 66 by 40-foot mural three stories high.

North Carolina muralist Max Dowdle, top left, was chosen after a nationwide search in part because of his vision to connect the mission of the UNC Institute of Marine Sciences — that of service to the state through research, outreach and education — with his art.

Look closely and you’ll see a hurricane representing the world-class work done on storm surge, local species of fish that researchers are helping to protect, and even our own scientists as a reminder of the people who live and work in the area and depend on the state’s coastal resources.

With the help of over 60 local UNC staff, students, faculty and community volunteers, the mural was completed in 10 days last July. The project was funded through private giving.

By Kerry Irish; photos by Kerry Irish and Jen Hughes

View a video on Instagram about the making of the mural.