Palmer Museum of Art

Pennsylvania State University

University Park, PA



PSU Collects WPA


Now through March 5, 2000, the Palmer Museum of Art at Penn State will host PSU Collects WPA , an exhibition featuring over twenty prints created by artists who were employed under the Works Progress Administration (WPA). (left: Louis Lozowick (1892-1973), East Side Market, 1934, lithograph, Palmer Museum of Art, Penn State)

When Franklin Delano Roosevelt assumed the presidency in March of 1933, the Depression had put more than thirteen million Americans, including some ten thousand artists, out of work. To address this alarming rate of unemployment, Roosevelt instituted various relief programs, the most successful of which was the Works Progress Administration. The Federal Art Project, a branch of the WPA, employed artists to paint murals, paintings, and to create prints.

Printmaking was a vital component of the Federal Art Project, and sixteen nationally subsidized graphic workshops--including important centers in New York and Philadelphia--distributed thousands of prints to tax-supported institutions like Penn State. Of the approximately five hundred works of art allocated to Penn State from the Federal Art Project, the University Park campus received roughly a hundred and fifty prints. Chosen mostly by Professors Francis Hyslop and Harold Dickson of the Department of Art History, the prints in this exhibition were originally installed in various schools and departments across campus, including Engineering, Liberal Arts, Education, and Food Services. (left: Mildred Emerson Williams (1892-1960), Spring, Central Park, 1937, lithograph, Palmer Museum of Art, Penn State)

Today, many of these prints are part of the permanent collection of the Palmer Museum of Art. PSU Collects WPA brings together prints from the Museum, as well as from the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences and the University Libraries Collection in an effort to highlight the innovative printmaking techniques and varied subject matter of the 1930s and 1940s, and to tell the story of one institution's engagement with the WPA.

Read more about the Palmer Museum of Art in Resource Library Magazine.

For further biographical information on selected artists cited above please see America's Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists.

rev. 12/27/10

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