Coastal Change Mural

Four square murals on a brick wall, they are green and blue, and depict a land mass getting covered in water over time.
The "Coastal Change" mural at the Highlands Center.

NPS Photo.

The four murals titled, Metamorphose: The Changing Form of Cape Cod, are meant to express how dramatically the shape of Cape Cod has evolved in the past 10,000 years. The general shape of the Cape was first formed with the retreat of the Lauren-tide ice sheet, which once covered much of Northern America beginning 95,000 years ago.

As shown in Mural 1, 10,000 years before present (BP), Cape Cod was just beginning to take the shape it is today. Since then, the Cape has metamorphosed, or changed form, by the power of the Atlantic Ocean.

The battering of wind and waves against the coastline of Cape Cod constantly removes and redeposits sand along the shoreline, so even while certain areas are eroding, other areas are growing, such as the hook at Provincetown. Mural 2 depicts that by 6,000 BP Georges Bank submerged under water due to sea level rise. The outer shoreline of Cape Cod was left increasingly vulnerable to strong ocean waves which had once been weakened by Georges Bank.

Each mural depicts a different time in history, and the lines represent coastal change. The changing shoreline has directly affected how humans and the environment developed on Cape Cod. These murals were painted so that visitors could understand the history, breadth, and beauty of the dramatic cliffs on which they stand.

Last updated: October 5, 2017

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