Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Worcester Public Library WPA Murals

The following information is from the excellent website The Living New Deal. The pictures are mine, and free to use. I wish they were better.

Worcester Public Library Murals – Worcester MA

Project type: ,
New Deal Agencies:


Three mural panels by Ralf Edgar Nickelsen are located on the second floor of the Main Library. The murals are titled:
  • Reading of the Mail – Communication of Ideas (87” x 204”). The women reading their mail and conversing represent the manufacturing workers of Worcester in the 1930’s.
  • Street Building – The Foundation of All Communication (97” x 204”). This depicts men building a road in the 1930’s.
  • Farming in the Worcester Region (97” x 382”). This depicts agricultural activities in the Worcester area prior to 1910. Men are reaping and women are gathering the fallen stalks into sheaves. Wheat and rye were grown in this vicinity.

The murals are on permanent loan from the National Museum of American Art of the Smithsonian Institution. They were sponsored by the Section of Fine Arts of the Public Buildings Administration, Federal Works Agency.

The murals were originally located in the Worcester Parcel Post Office Building in 1940. The Post Office abandoned the Parcel Post Building in the late 1960’s and the building turned over to the University of Massachusetts Medical School. The building was razed and a parking garage was constructed on the site adjacent to Union Station. The murals were moved to the New York studio of restorer Hiram Hoelzer, who cleaned and restored them. The Worcester Public Library’s Board of Directors and the Friends of the Library led a campaign to return the murals to Worcester. The Friends raised the money for transportation and rehanging. 

A dedication ceremony, attended by the artist, was held on December 14, 1972.

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