Carver students serve as docents for Norwalk’s WPA murals

000photo 1 (1)The city of Norwalk has one of the nation’s largest surviving collections of W.P.A. murals, thanks to a restoration effort in the 1980s that preserved nearly two dozen in the old Norwalk High School, now City Hall. The rescued artwork is on display there, while other murals decorate Norwalk Community College, the city’s public library and maritime aquarium, and other public places. Though many of the murals depict scenes from local history, several are more exotic: Five murals by an artist named Arthur G. Hull illustrate imagined scenes from the travels of Marco Polo.000photo 1

The Federal Art Project of the Works Progress Administration was established by Franklin Delano Roosevelt in mid-1935. The WPA’s mission was to take 3.5 million people off relief and put them to work. Within a year, some 5,000 artists were busy on WPA. The Federal Art Project was not intended to create great and lasting art; that was a happy by product. Of all the WPA art projects, murals constituted the smallest part of the artistic effort. Just 2,566 murals were painted for public buildings. Sadly, less than 25 years after the WPA era, most of the federal art had been lost or destoyed. Countless murals were painted over, while the largely uncatalogued easel paintings disappeared in private offices, moldered in storerooms or were used to fuel incinerators. Not so in Norwalk! Norwalk’s murals are currently on view at the following locations: Norwalk Transit District; Norwalk City Hall; Norwalk Community College; Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk; and the Norwalk Public Library.


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