Art: Hidden Goddess

As the official restorer for Kansas City's William Rockhill Nelson Gallery of Art, James Roth was the first to notice something strange about one of the old Chinese murals on loan to the gallery. All were well-preserved examples of 12th century Chinese wall painting, brilliant scenes of ancient deities in jewels and flowing robes; in one, Roth saw a curious crack running across the surface, and down inside the fissure he spotted a trace of bright blue paint peeping through. Then the murals went back to their owner and Roth forgot about it.

Last year the owner decided to give the Nelson...

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