Human Endeavour


Leonard Victor Mitchell



  • Mural


  • Oil paint
  • Canvas


  • Approximately H2500 x W8500mm (across 5 panels)

Leonard Victor Mitchell, ‘Human Endeavour’ (1956), War Memorial Library, Te Awa Kairangi ki Tai Lower Hutt

Image: Bronwyn Holloway-Smith, Public Art Heritage Aotearoa New Zealand, 2022


Leonard Victor Mitchell was commissioned by Ron Muston, the War Memorial Library architect, in October 1955. The commission consisted of three murals: two for the Memorial Hall (main entrance to the building) and a third to be hung above the main desk. At the time, they were the largest murals ever to be commissioned in New Zealand and Mitchell was faced with the daunting task of designing and completing the murals within three and a half months.

'Human Endeavour,' the largest of the three murals, has been moved from above the main desk, and now hangs over the bookshelves.

The original brief asked for the murals to be painted directly onto the walls but Mitchell was adamant they be done on canvas. He wanted his work to be of a lasting nature and had concerns around earthquake risk and maintenance. Mitchell’s wish was eventually granted on condition that the building contractors make the frames to precise measurements laid down by Muston. However, the wait for the frames cut severely into Mitchell's time with them only arriving in December.

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