Last Days To View Depression Era Murals

Agricultural MuralThe Birmingham Historical Society captures in a new book and exhibit seldom-seen murals that tell the story of an era, the history of our region, and the mood of a nation in hardship.

Depression-era murals survive and thrive in both book and exhibit form thanks to the Birmingham Historical Society’s newest endeavor: identifying, assembling, presenting, and chronicling artworks which were created and appeared in the Birmingham area. “We just kept looking,” explains Marjorie White, BHS. “We found the murals still intact in some structures, never having been moved in all these years. We found collections tucked in attics, archives, and online. It has been a fascinating scavenger hunt to find this incredible art, created by artists between 1929 and 1939.” The exhibition Murals, Murals on the Wall 1929-1939 is on view through December 30, 2010 (the library is closed December 31) at the Birmingham Public Library in the 4th Floor Gallery.

The book, Digging Out of the Great Depression: Federal Programs at Work In and Around Birmingham, is the ultimate picture book—144 pages with 250 seldom-seen images of our region’s programs in the arts, agriculture, beautification, archaeology, school and infrastructure improvement, health, reforestation, theater and more. Our ancestors can be seen at work improving our community and keeping morale and productivity alive during one of our nation’s most challenging times.

Murals, Murals on the Wall 1929-1939: Our Story Through Art in Public Places contains magnificent Depression-era artwork in person, covering the walls of the Birmingham Public Library’s 4th Floor Gallery. Visitors will see 10 murals, created for the 1939 Alabama State Fair to chart the history of Alabama agriculture. “They were lost and forgotten in an attic of the Alabama Cooperative Extension System (ACES), but are now rediscovered and being seen for the first time in many years,” says White. The murals are restored and will be loaned to Auburn University’s Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art at the conclusion of the exhibit. Digital images of other original murals in Birmingham libraries, post offices and courthouses are on display.

To Buy Books: By mail, Birmingham Historical Society, One Sloss Quarters, Birmingham, Al 35223, $35 postpaid; and at the Downtown Library front desk. For additional information, please contact the Library at (205) 226-3746.