Cape Cinema – Dennis, Massachusetts - Atlas Obscura
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Dennis, Massachusetts

Cape Cinema

The ceiling of this vintage movie palace is covered in fantastic Art Deco murals. 

In most movie theaters, the audience gathers to see what’s displayed on the big screen. But in Dennis, Massachusetts, the eyes of every movie-goer are drawn toward the ceiling rather than the screen. There, they find a vivid Art Deco mural depicting the night sky.

When the Cape Cinema movie theater first opened in 1930, the building’s architect hired prominent artist Rockwell Kent to cover its ceiling with vibrant colors. Kent, who acquired an affinity for the night sky after spending years in Greenland, used this as an opportunity to paint a masterpiece of constellations, stars, and mystical figures from the heavens.

The 6,400-square-foot mural, which is composed nearly a dozen wooden slabs that fit together on the theater’s curved ceiling, was infused with Kent’s symbolism, passion, and beautiful palette of colors. It features various nude figures floating in the heavens and reaching for a bright orange light that cuts across the ceiling.

Stars play a major theme in the artwork. A depiction of the Taurus constellation is joined by an orange canine figure representing Sirius (the “dog star”) to symbolize the constellations of the night sky.

Together, the medley of orange, blue, and gray make for a beautiful cinematic ceiling and turn any visit to the theater into an artistic experience.