MELBOURNE, FLA. — Vibrant once again, and boasting a new batch of hidden icons to discover, Florida Tech’s downtown Melbourne mural is ready to resume its role as the colorful artistic cornerstone of the community’s public art scene.
“Ad Astra,” painted by Christopher Maslow and unveiled in 2016, is the 90-foot-long mural on the western wall of the building at 800 E. New Haven Ave. at Waverly Place. Named after Florida Tech’s motto, “Ad Astra Per Scientiam,” which means “To the stars through science,” the mural depicts a panther – Florida Tech’s mascot – strolling through environs of land, sea and stars, capturing the university’s STEM focus and its past, present and future.
The mural had sustained a patch of damage where it appears the wall fell away. Colors elsewhere had faded over the years. But no more.
Over the summer, the Melbourne-based artist spent weeks working on the mural. He repaired the damage, updated a few areas, and totally repainted others, including depictions of space and sky. Maslow said coming back to the mural nearly seven years after he first painted it was also a chance to gauge his own growth as an artist.
“It’s been seven years of accumulating skills, so I decided to repaint some certain areas,” he said. “When people look at photos of the 2016 version and the new 2022 version, they will see some differences that are subtle but recognizable.”
Among the additions: five new “Easter eggs” – hidden nods to Florida Tech:
- A plane to represent Florida Tech’s aviation program
- A globe to represent the university’s international students
- The Apollo 11 rocket to represent Florida Tech’s space heritage
- The phrase “Countdown College,” an early nickname
- ROTC shield, a nod to Florida Tech’s distinguished program
These join previous “Easter eggs” Maslow included in the original image.
“Ad Astra” is now one of 20 murals in downtown Melbourne (including several others by Maslow). It was among the first to be painted after Melbourne Main Street launched a campaign to boost public art in the area in 2015.
“Historic downtown Melbourne is an eclectic destination for people of all ages and offers something unique around every corner,” said Kim Agee, executive director of Melbourne Main Street. “The Florida Tech Ad Astra mural is one of the most iconic and photographed among the murals in downtown Melbourne and really solidified our community as a destination for mural viewing.”