BARSTOW Since the Main Street Murals project started in 1997, Barstow's main thoroughfare has become something of an art gallery.

Numerous buildings on Main Street between First and Seventh streets are adorned with large murals, depicting topics like the history of Barstow and the Ice Age. For those who spend any amount of time downtown, the murals become everyday scenery.

"The mural program was really set up to beautify the downtown area," said Jane Laraman Brockhurst, education director of the Desert Discovery Center. "To build community pride, to inform the general public, and celebrate our local natural and cultural history. And in all of those areas, it really embraces and promotes tourism, because there are many visitors to the area that come in."

The Desert Discovery Center is a museum that acts as the hub of just about all art-related activities in Barstow. DDC operates the Main Street Murals program, which produces artwork and also participates in renovation projects along Main Street.

Main Street Murals is a nonprofit organization established by the city in order to "create a walking gallery of historic murals along Route 66's last existing Main Street."

The DDC offers tours of the murals on the last Saturday of every month. The tours include a slideshow presentation of 100 years of Barstow history. In addition to the standard tours, horse and carriage tours up and down Main Street are coming in May.

"We take people out to Main Street to walk the mural gallery, which is between First and Seventh streets," Laraman Brockhurst said. "So it's like a 14-block walking tour. They get to look at the murals and they're given history about each subject, and also insight into the development and painting of the murals, and the artist."

For more information on Main Street Murals, call the Desert Discovery Center at 760-252-6060.