A History of the Moat

The Merrill Moat is an interactive community art project that goes back the earliest days of the college. It is a celebration of the ideas, cultures, voices, and values of the Merrill community – a visual representation of their diversity and creativity.

In its earliest incarnation the Moat was an entirely freeform project, essentially a large-scale community graffito, organized by students and generally tolerated by the administration. This began to change in the summer 1979, when a new Provost – George Von der Muhll – had the vast majority of the Moat whitewashed without student input. According to an article in the City on a Hill [Volume 13, Issue 5 – 10/18/79] the whitewashing was an attempt to improve student retention and the physical environment of the college. Von der Muhll claimed that some of the more crude images on the Moat were “something you [could] find in any men’s room.” The student reaction to this action was strong; over 200 people attended a town hall meeting in opposition to the whitewashing. The students saw it as symbolic of a wider shift away from social and artistic freedom at the end of the 70s. Especially telling, in their view, was the fact that none of the politically themed murals survived the whitewashing. In the wake of this incident the Moat has slowly evolved into a more formal project, officially endorsed and organized.

Ultimately organization of the Merrill Moat was entrusted to the Merrill Office of Student Activities and Programs. Today, every spring, the Merrill community votes for the 10 murals it would like to see retired. These retired murals are replaced with that year’s batch of new submissions. If more than 10 new murals are submitted, those are also put to a vote before the Merrill community.

 Here are some of the murals that have come down in the past. Unfortunately our records are not complete, and images for all of the retired murals are not available.

  • Gallery of murals retired in 2011

    Murals retired in 2011

  • Gallery of murals retired in 2010

    Murals retired in 2010

  • Gallery of murals retired in 2009

    Murals retired in 2009

  • Gallery of murals retired in 2008

    Murals retired in 2008

  • Gallery of murals retired in 2007

    Murals retired in 2007

  • Gallery of murals retired in 2006

    Murals retired in 2006

  • Gallery of murals retired in between 2002 and 2005

    Murals retired between 2002 & 2005

  • Gallery of murals retired in unknown years

    Murals retired in unknown years