A very large assemblage gathered at the college, March 26, 1924, to witness the formal opening of the arts building. At the entrance to the building, an imposing orthostyle, is an open loggia fronted by four Doric columns. The loggia opens to a large vestibule which in turn admits to a gracious foyer and to the rotunda which in 1937 was a newly decorated gallery, that at the time of opening the arts building was an unrealized dream.
The floor, of which the diameter is 72ft, 8ft less than that of the Capitol of Washington, is of blocked Tennessee marble. Pillars of variegated marble support the lofty dome which is adorned with rich golds, deep blues, spring greens and warm, glowing white. A wainscoting of rose-veined Italian marble from the Appenines on both floors and a railing of delicately veined pilasters on the mezzanine floor to match the verde antique marble inlay of the first floor; walls panelled in gold and ivory tones, an exquisitely illuminated and richly intricate scroll work, make a surprising and admirable color intonation.
The murals,* in the dome and on the walls of both floors, numbering twenty in all, are deeply religious in form and in spirit, the basic idea of the decoration being religion supporting the arts and sciences. Blended ornamental borders, rosettes, greeks and targets, make a gallery of unsurpassed artistic beauty. The general conception of the decoration was inspired by and based on two fundamental principles for which the religious institute of the Immaculate Heart of Mary was founded; namely, the sanctification of its members and the education and instruction of youth. In the center of the dome the Holy Ghost is represented symbolizing the faith that is in the community and that inspires, enlightens, and governs its work. A golden halo of sanctity surrounds the symbol.
In the medallion of the library doorway is Pope Leo XIII. In the medallion to the right is Bishop Hoban.
*Professor Gonippo Raggi, K.C.S.G. is the artist of the rotunda.
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