Farewell, funky 1996 Olympic Games mural at Atlanta Airport?

Why couldn’t they just take the ceiling ants?


  • Courtesy Hartsfield Jackson International Airport
  • A Porsche advertisement now covers the “Spirit of Atlanta” mural.

Sad news, Atlanta. The city might be losing one of its most beloved gems: the weird and majestic 1996 Olympic Games mural at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

Airport officials have covered up artist Deborah Whitehouse’s “Spirit of Atlanta,” a massive 70-foot-wide mural that has greeted arriving passengers getting off the escalators before picking up their bags for more than decade. No more Centennial Olympic Park fountains at night. No more tunic-wearing girl with her hands raised in the air, welcoming people to our little hamlet. No more crouching baby wearing a diaper who truly embodies the spirit of Atlanta.

What now covers up the mural? Yep, you guessed it, an advertisement:

R.I.P., weird-but-brilliant Olympics mural at the Atlanta Airport. http://t.co/WVD5HE41nS pic.twitter.com/kfOAVy0tJV
— Max Blau (@MaxBlau) April 30, 2015

Atlanta Airport spokesman Reese McCranie tells CL a giant ad for Porsche, the German luxury car maker whose new North American headquarters will soon open near the airport, will occupy the space until the middle of June. Once the Porsche ad campaign ends, the airport is expected to hook up a new digital ad display in the mural’s longtime home.

Many Atlantans collectively sighed upon hearing the news about the mural. Here’s some of the initial reaction:

The Olympics mural at the top of the Hartsfield-Jackson escalator (yes, that one) is gone. RIP Old New Atlanta: pic.twitter.com/qONIqUlx9j
— Conor Sen (@conorsen) April 30, 2015

Hartsfield got rid of the Olympics mural. My life is a lie…
— Austin Henderson (@austin_h_11) April 30, 2015

@maxblau I will miss that naked squatting Tongan-looking toddler. :-/
— david fountain (@DaFuente) April 30, 2015

— Rembert Browne (@rembert) April 30, 2015

This isn’t the first time that an ad has covered up the mural. Back in 2013, Coca-Cola slapped a Final Four ad over the work during the NCAA Men’s College Basketball Tournament. Here’s a time-lapse video of that ad:

We reached out to airport officials about the cost of the current ad, what will happen with the mural, and other details. We’ve also sent a line to Whitehouse seeking comment. Be on guard, folks, the ceiling ants could be next.