Spotlight Collection

The WPA Fine Arts Projects in Rochester

This month, New York Heritage Digital Collections proudly spotlights the WPA Fine Arts Projects in Rochester from the Memorial Art Gallery.

During the Great Depression, an alphabet soup of publicly funded projects ensured artists’ employment.  Under the Public Works of Art Project (PWAP) and Federal Art Project (FAP), the Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester oversaw the creation of artworks for Rochester area museums, public schools, libraries, and parks.  The federal government contributed all labor expense involved in carrying out the various programs.  Rochester’s program, termed “the most interesting and effective outside of New York City,” was hosted by the Memorial Art Gallery and administered by then-director Gertrude Herdle Moore. Erik Hans Krause supervised the artists in the Fine Arts Project. The cooperating sponsors, the Rochester Board of Education and the Memorial Art Gallery, supplied funds for the materials used.

Included in this digital collection are photographs of public health posters, many of them designed by Erik Hans Krause; school auditorium theatre curtains and hangings; entries for the WPA Index of American Design; 3-dimensional models of ancient sites for use in schools; photos of murals by Carl W. Peters; and the catalogue of an exhibition of the Fine Arts Project’s work held at the Memorial Art Gallery in 1937.

About the Institute

From the website:
The Memorial Art Gallery (MAG) was founded in 1913 by Emily Sibley Watson as a memorial to her son, architect James Averell. Given in trust to the University of Rochester, it is one of the few university-affiliated art museums in the country that also serves as community art museum. Today it is supported primarily by its members, the University of Rochester and public funds from Monroe County and the New York State Council on the Arts.

The Charlotte Whitney Allen Library and Teacher Resource Center at the Memorial Art Gallery is one of the region’s most extensive visual arts libraries. Since the Gallery opened in 1913, its library has served area art-lovers. Today, the Charlotte Whitney Allen Library is open to the public for browsing and research, and to MAG members, UR students, faculty & staff, and K-12 & home-school teachers for borrowing. The Allen Library is open to the public for research purposes. To make an appointment to visit the Library outside of public hours, call the Library’s Information Desk at 585.276.8999 or email Librarian Lu Harper.

The Memorial Art Gallery is a member of the Rochester Regional Library Council, a member of the NY 3Rs Association, Inc..