Treasure Island Naval History Mural – San Francisco, California - Atlas Obscura

Treasure Island Naval History Mural

An enormous artwork that colorfully celebrates over 150 years of US military achievements. 


Within the lobby of Treasure Island’s former administration building of the 1939 World’s Fair is a mural that stretches 251 feet long and 26 feet high. Designed by New York artist Lowell Nesbitt and executed by a team of a dozen Bay Area painters, the enormous artwork depicts naval history in the Pacific since 1813, featuring a total of eleven Navy and Marine Corps events.

The mural was completed in 1976 to align with the opening of the Navy-Marine Corps Museum, which included artifacts from Treasure Island’s World’s Fair, Pan Am Clipper flights and American military operations in the Pacific. The mural was intended to act as a colorful background for exhibits in the museum; however, the museum closed its doors in 1997 after 21 years of operation.

Today, the building is occupied by the Treasure Island Development Authority. The museum artifacts have come and gone, but the impressive mural continues to glow on the lobby’s East wall.

The Navy closed the museum at the time that Naval Station Treasure Island was closed, after fifty-six years of operation. Most of the museum’s naval collection has been sent away to Washington, D.C., but much of the remainder of the collection is still in the Bay Area, particularly the collection pertaining to the Golden Gate International Exposition. The Treasure Island Museum Association maintains a photo and narrative exhibit that tells the story of Treasure Island. 

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