This image of Thomas Hart Benton's mural in the Missouri state capitol includes a depiction of the outlaw Jesse James.

If you’ve ever visited Missouri’s capitol in Jefferson City, you’ve most likely encountered the work of artist Thomas Hart Benton. His vivid portrayal of the state’s history is encapsulated in the mural “A Social History of the State of Missouri,” which covers the walls of the House Lounge.

The mural and its creation are profiled in the documentary “Tom Benton’s Missouri,” which has been remastered in a high-definition format. The film is screening this month for its 20th anniversary, including showings on the University of Missouri’s four campuses. It will be screened at 2 p.m. Oct. 31 in Gallery 210 at the University of Missouri–St. Louis. On hand to discus the film will be co-director James J. Bogan Jr., emeritus Curators’ Teaching Professor of Art History and Film at the Missouri University of Science and Technology in Rolla.

The screening is free and open to the public.

The restored film features an enhanced soundtrack and color refinements that bring the colors into congruence with the original tempera of the mural. The University of Missouri System helped fund the restoration.

The award-winning 1992 documentary was directed by Bogan and Frank Fillo, former director of University of Missouri Extension’s Cooperative Media Group.

Michael Hicks, film and video producer with the MU Extension Cooperative Media Group, oversaw the technical challenges of transferring 16-millimeter film into a digital HD format.

“Advances in technology have given us a cost-effective way to distribute this to the classroom and, we hope, excite a new generation of Missourians about the art and history of our state,” Hicks said.

The remastered version is available for free at in a downloadable HD format. The website includes an educator’s guide with lesson plans, background information on the mural and lyrics and music from the film.

The UMSL screening is sponsored by the university’s chapter of the history honor society Phi Alpha Theta and the Department of Art and Art History.

Watch the trailer of “Tom Benton’s Missouri” below.


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