Harold Weston Federal Construction Murals (1938)

Labor Art

Perhaps one of the best-kept labor and art secrets in DC (and there seem to be many) are the murals of Harold Weston. Depicting the construction of government buildings and office activities, these murals are excellent examples of New Deal art projects of the 1930s; they were designed to represent the recovery being made from the Great Depression. Harold Weston, a painter, etcher, muralist, author and national leader in art and public service, won the competition (which was part of the Treasury Relief Art Project, a program of the WPA). He did extensive drawings before beginning his murals, paintings on canvas that cover 840 feet of wall space. "It seemed to me," said Weston, " that my mural, in which any emotional approach would be out of place, would only become more than a suitable decoration if I got to know the essential processes of construction, character of things, gestures of workers and then let emphasis, exaggeration or scale be dictated by what was needed to build up the design. I felt I had to know the fundamentals of what I was trying to paint.” Weston created the mural panels in his studio in the Adirondacks and supervised the installation. He added details where necessary, based on the actual site and lighting of the space. The murals were unveiled in a ceremony on July 1, 1938.
(Jon Garlock from handout at building)




7th St SW & D Streets

Ground floor, east vestibule

DC Labor Map

Welcome to the DC Labor Map! Here you can find both current and historic labor sites in Washington, DC, including union hotels, restaurants, international and local union organizations, labor art and historic labor sites. You can use it for an online virtual tour of DC labor, or to plan your visit to our nation’s capital.
CLICK ON "LEGEND" at right to view categories; TO CHOOSE A SPECIFIC CATEGORY just click on it and only those sites will be shown.
We welcome your comments and suggestions: click on the “comments” tab at the bottom of the map. The DC Labor Map is a project of the Metropolitan Washington Council, AFL-CIO: primary research was done by Chris Garlock, Jon Garlock and Lisa Garlock; contributors include: Saul Schniderman, Peter Winch and Fhar Miess.