'A New Deal for Artists' offers a fresh look at the Great Depression

Brian Szott talks about 'New Deal Art'
Morning Edition's Cathy Wurzer, right, interviews Minnesota History Center art curator Brian Szott Wednesday, May 30, 2012 in the gallery where the museum's new exhibit "1934: A New Deal for Artists" is on display.
MPR Photo/Jennifer Simonson

Starting June 2, visitors to the Minnesota History Center will get a fresh look at the United States during the Great Depression.

The History Center is hosting "1934: A New Deal for Artists," a traveling exhibit from the Smithsonian American Art Museum. The exhibit features 56 paintings created across the country as part of the Public Works Art Project.

During the depths of the Great Depression, President Franklin D. Roosevelt's administration employed millions of people to carry out public works projects as part of its New Deal programs. The art program put people to work by paying them to produce artwork that could be used in public buildings. Artists were asked to depict "the American Scene."

The program lasted less than a year, but resulted in thousands of images of 1934 America, creating a visual record of the country at a moment in time.

Morning Edition host Cathy Wurzer visited the exhibit with Brian Szott, Acting Head of Collections at the Minnesota History Center.

The exhibit runs through Sept. 30.

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