If walls could talk, those of the University of North Georgia’s dining hall banquet room would have had a lot to say Friday afternoon.
The world’s only full size, hand-painted replica of the Bayeux Tapestry was on display at the university’s Dahlonega campus.
The 224-foot tapestry covered the walls of the entire room and was donated to UNG last year by E.D. Wheeler, a retired judge and former dean at Oglethorpe University.
The tapestry depicts historic events leading up to the Norman conquest of England in the 11th century.
Created in the 1070s, the original Bayeux Tapestry, on display at the Musée de la Tapisserie de Bayeux in France, is considered by many to be a masterpiece of ancient art.
After an extensive cleaning of the replica, UNG finally got the chance to show it off to more than 150 people from around the community — though only for one day.
“We know that after seeing it, many visitors will tell their friends about this impressive 224-foot-long painting, and may want to come back and see it again themselves,” said Pamela Sachant, head of the university’s visual arts department. “Unfortunately, we cannot yet permanently display the work at the university as we do not have a suitable place to exhibit it. It will, however, be available for display at sites such as schools, libraries, museums and history centers that have the space.”
The masterpiece is considered a must-see for many reasons, including its size and the unusual history lesson the tapestry presents.
“Judge Wheeler’s wishes coincide with the university’s desire to integrate what can be learned from the replica into different areas of study: history, literature and visual arts, to name a few. In addition, we plan to use the work as a way to engage with the community and encourage visitors to the campus,” Sachant said.
Though the display was fleeting, the university has plans to eventually have the tapestry on display full-time once a campus location has been determined.
“The university is exploring where we can create the right exhibition space for the tapestry replica,” Sachant said, “a place where it can be hung at the proper viewing level, with good lighting and enough room for a painting more than two-thirds the length of a football field.”