WPA Art Collection
In 1934, the federal government began loaning or allocating movable artworks created under the New Deal art programs to public agencies and nonprofit institutions. In both its scope and the number of artists employed, the Federal Art Project was the largest of these programs overseen by the Works Progress Administration (WPA). Seeking to put as many unemployed Americans back to work as possible and to buoy the morale of citizens, the FAP hired hundreds of artists who collectively created more than 100,000 paintings and murals as well as over 18,000 sculptures to be found in municipal buildings, schools, and hospitals in all of the 48 states. Additionally, the program hoped to foster the role of the arts in public life and to bring the artist closer to the everyday, American experience. These works invoked familiar images that spoke of shared values and American progress, including technological wonders, fertile farmlands, small town life, and big city vibrancy. Special Collections houses 124 prints of works created by WPA artists during the FAP years (1935-42).