Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Lost and Found - New Deal Post Office Murals

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports, "In 1939, two renowned New York artists, Raphael and Moses Soyer, received federal commissions to paint murals for the Kingsessing branch post office under the heralded New Deal post office art program.

"Their artwork - two 15-foot-long murals made up of three panels each - depicted iconic scenes of Philadelphia from both the Colonial period and the 20th century: Independence Hall, the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, the skyline from the Delaware River, and the Ben Franklin Bridge.

"For decades, the murals decorated the lobby of the post office at 52d Street and Whitby Avenue, but they disappeared from public view years ago. Until recently, art historians believed they had vanished for good.

"In fact, the murals were safe. They had been divided into six panels and hung in the hallways of the 15th-floor regional corporate offices of the U.S. Postal Service at 615 Chestnut St. But they were accessible only to postal employees and guests.

"News of the murals' whereabouts came to light last month after an Inquirer article on an exhibit at the State Museum of Pennsylvania in Harrisburg that highlighted the legacy of New Deal post office art in the state."

The article by Amy Worden goes on to talk about a controversy surrounding depression era Post Office murals and the public's right to see them without copyright restrictions. See the Round Up post for March 3, 2009.

Shown above, one of the murals the Soyer brothers painted which now hang in Postal Service offices in downtown Philadelphia.

To read the entire article, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM