Restoration work was recently completed on five beautiful and historically significant murals, commissioned for Harlem Hospital Center in 1936. The murals project, with medical themes developed specifically for the hospital, found itself at the center of a firestorm for inclusion of African American subjects and artists, considered controversial at the time.
The murals were originally commissioned as part of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) - the largest of the stimulus programs established by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to deal with the massive unemployment of the Great Depression of the 1930s. One of the WPA's many components was the Federal Arts Project, which put unemployed artists to work across the country, creating art in public schools, post offices, and hospitals.
In 2006, five of the most significant murals at Harlem Hospital, which had experienced some deterioration during the previous decades, were removed for extensive renovation. The restored murals will be installed as part of the new patient pavilion, scheduled to open at Harlem Hospital in 2011.
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