Harlem Hospital WPA Murals

The murals at Harlem Hospital Center, commissioned in 1936 by Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal agency, the Works Progress Administration (WPA), were the first major U.S. government commissions awarded to African American artists and as such sparked great controversy at the time. Like many WPA projects, they fell into relative obscurity during intervening decades when New York City government had limited resources to maintain such art works.

Now, as HHC builds a state-of-the-art medical facility to expand its mission of patient care, it is also engaged in the complex process of preserving and restoring the murals and placing them in a permanent position of architectural prominence. Columbia University Web developers have worked with HHC, the only public hospital affiliate of Columbia University Medical Center, to document the remarkable history of the WPA murals and the extensive efforts under way to restore and maintain them for posterity.

To learn more about this important part of Harlem and African American cultural history, visit the Harlem Hospital WPA Murals Web site.

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