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Kurt Schaldach paints the Battle of Beer and Wine mural

Battle of Beer and Wine
Conserving the Murals of Der Rathskeller and Der Stiftskeller

The walls of Der Rathskeller and Der Stiftskeller tell a story: the story of students, the university, and a war between beer and wine.

German immigrant and artist Eugene Hausler painted the original murals when Der Rathskeller first opened in 1928. There were eight murals total, representing six facets of university life: athletics, forensics, student government, journalism, drama, and music. The mural that graces the Eastern fireplace represents the “fun” side of student life, while the mural on the opposite fireplace represented the “serious” side.

In 1978, Kurt Schaldach, another German artist, restored the murals. He also added new artwork to Der Stiftskeller, including one mural called the “Battle of Beer and Wine” based on a mural in Munich. The mural, which depicts a battle between an army of beer steins taking on a squadron of gnomes employing wine and champagne bottles with cork cannonballs, is a favorite of many Stiftskeller visitors.

In 2012, the expansive renovation of the Memorial Union required the removal of the canvassed murals. It also, unfortunately, meant the destruction of the murals hand-painted directly on the walls. A team of conservators documented the murals through tracings and photographs. When the space reopened, all the murals, including those that had been destroyed, were carefully reconstructed, preserving the stories and history of the beloved space.