During the Great Depression, president Franklin Delano Roosevelt promised a “new deal for the American people,” initiating government programs to foster economic recovery. Realizing that Americans needed not only employment but also the inspiration art could provide, the administration created the Public Works of Art Project, the first federal program to support the arts. Although short-lived, the PWAP employed thousands of artists to paint regional, recognizable subjects—from portraits to cityscapes and street scenes to landscapes and rural life. These artworks were displayed in schools, libraries, post offices, museums, and government buildings, vividly capturing the realities and ideals of the era. 1934: A New Deal for Artists celebrates the 75th anniversary of the PWAP, presenting 56 vibrant paintings from the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s unparalleled collection.
IMAGE: Lily Furedi, Subway, 1934, oil on canvas, Smithsonian American Art Museum. Transfer from the U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service
Programming & Financial Support
1934: A New Deal for Artists is organized and circulated by the Smithsonian American Art Museum with support from the William R. Kenan Jr. Endowment Fund and the Smithsonian Council for American Art. The C.F. Foundation in Atlanta supports the museum’s traveling exhibition program, Treasures to Go.