February 16 through May 6, 2012
This nationally touring exhibition celebrates the 75th anniversary of the Public Works of Art Project by drawing on the Smithsonian American Art Museum's unparalleled collection of vibrant artworks created for the program.
In 1934, Americans grappled with an economic crisis that feels all too familiar today. Against the backdrop of the Great Depression, President Franklin Roosevelt’s administration created the Public Works of Art Project—the first federal government program to support the arts nationally. The program enlisted artists all across America to paint murals and canvases depicting “the American Scene” for display in public buildings. Regional subjects, including labor and leisure, city and rural life, nature and people, reminded the public of quintessential American values of hard work, community, and optimism.