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A 'postcard to Peoria': Augmented reality mural unveiled outside Metro Centre

Hannah Alani
The "Find Yourself" mural is on display outside the Metro Centre, facing University Street.

If you’re driving south on University Street between Glen and Lake avenues and happen to look to the left, you may notice a large, brightly colored mural on the side of the Metro Centre shopping complex.

The words “Find Yourself” appear in large pink and blue letters, surrounded by dozens of Peoria landmarks and symbols — from the Spirit of Peoria steam boat to a bright yellow excavator.

In smaller print, you’ll read words like, “Grandview Drive” … "Whiskey City" … and “It Plays In Peoria.”

This isn’t any ordinary mural — it’s equipped with augmented reality technology.

To use the mural’s AR features, you must download an app developed by Bradley University student Haley Hutchins. (Titled "Find Yourself Peoria," the app is still in final development stages, but you will soon be able to download it through the Apple app store.)

Hold your smart phone up to the wall — and each time your camera picks up an image, the app will tell you what you’re looking at.

Wave your phone in front of the burnt orange-colored building in the bottom left corner, for example, and you’ll read the words, “City Hall.” The app will even pull up a link to the City of Peoria’s website.

Eric Brinker is the president of Metro Centre. He worked with Big Picture Peoria to commission muralist Jeremy Berkley to create the mural.

"It's an amazing sort of postcard to Peoria," he said, adding "this ... trend around the country of public art I think has been so important to cities. And Big Picture Peoria's been such a leader in doing that in our city. But traditionally, it's only been in downtown Peoria, and we wanted to bring it to this part of community, the center of town."

Hannah Alani

Brinker's aunt was Susan G. Komen, the namesake of the internationally-known breast cancer awareness organization.
Brinker's mother, Nancy Brinker, founded the organization in 1982, two years after Susan died from breast cancer at the age of 36.

Brinker said he is proud that the mural includes a depiction of a pink ribbon.

"It's amazing," he said. "My mom promised my aunt ... right here in Peoria, that she would help change the face of breast cancer. And that global movement, that everybody around the world knows, the pink ribbon, that started right here in Peoria."

Metro Centre is home to various locally-owned businesses, from Jalapenos restaurant to Sunrise health foods store to Flying D Dancewear.

Brinker hopes the mural attracts more shoppers for his tenants.

"We're thriving now," he said. "We're coming out of COVID, stronger than we've ever been."

Shoppers and visitors are welcome to post photos with various holiday displays located inside the shops to enter a raffle for a $100 gift card. Learn more here.

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Hannah Alani is a reporter at WCBU. She joined the newsroom in 2021. She can be reached at hmalani@ilstu.edu.