While the rest of the world panicked in the months leading up to Y2K, the citizens of Shreveport fashioned a love letter to the city and its residents in the form of what is likely one of the largest publicly funded murals in the United States.
At 14 stories tall and covering 30,000 square feet, “Once in a Millennium Moon” dominates the southern face of an AT&T building in downtown Shreveport. Despite its grandeur, the mural retains an intimacy that is wildly understated.
After the Shreveport Regional Arts Council approached Philadelphia-based muralist Meg Saligman in 1999, she poured herself into the city—researching its history and interviewing and taking photos of hundreds of long-time residents. She asked them what objects they would like to give the people of Shreveport at the turn of the next millennium, what was the most beautiful thing they’d ever seen, and how it felt to live in the historic port city.
With the help of 4,000 community collaborators, 1,500 gallons of donated paint, and a clever paint-by-number grid system Seligman developed specifically for this mural (which would later become industry standard), the mural came to life in the first year of the new millennium. The scale alone is breathtaking—but it’s the details that stir the soul.
The mural depicts 19 residents—ranging in age from three months to 80 years old—holding or posing alongside an array of seemingly everyday objects. Some are personal to the subjects, heirlooms like a cast-iron skillet in its third generation or a ceramic cup that was the sole surviving possession from a fire in one family’s home. Others tell the story of Shreveport and its environs, like a cornucopia of produce native to northwestern Louisiana, a fork from a steamship mail-carrier that once traveled the Red River, and architectural elements from the nearby Municipal Auditorium, itself Louisiana’s finest art deco style structure. A helpful, numbered decoding guide sits by the fence near the foot of the mural that explains the names and meanings of each person and object.
The western wall of the building features a sole area high schooler, her skirt billowing in the wind and holding an orb of fire which, as the guide reads, is a “symbol of hope [and] a gift to the residents of Shreveport in the year 3000.”
Know Before You Go
The mural is located on the rear side of the AT&T building, at the corner of Cotton Street and Marshall Street.