Carl Peters and the WPA


Art for the People:
Carl W. Peters and the Rochester WPA Murals

October 18, 2015–January 3, 2016 in the Grand Gallery
members’ opening party Saturday, October 17, 8 to 11 pm

Carl W. Peters study of man

Between 1935 and 1943, the federal government funded the arts through the Works Progress Administration. Rochester’s program, termed “the most interesting and effective outside of New York City,” was hosted by the Memorial Art Gallery and administered by then-director Gertrude Herdle Moore.

This exhibition will highlight a group of recently restored mural studies by Rochester artist Carl W. Peters for 13 extant WPA murals, most of which were done for the Rochester City School District. Also featuring additional work by Peters and a series of WPA posters on loan from the Library of Congress, this exciting project illuminates an important moment in local and national history. read the press release

Read a copy of Jessica Marten’s feature on Carl W. Peters and the Rochester WPA Murals in the October copy of the American Art Review.

  • Sunday, 10/18 @ 3 pm & Sunday, 11/15 @ 2 pm, film: 
”Enough to Live On: The Arts of the WPA” (2015), by writer/director Michael Maglaras of 217 Films

Interview with Michael Maglaras and excerpt from his new film about the arts of the WPA from 217 Films.

Sponsored by the Gallery Council of the Memorial Art Gallery, with additional support from the Herdle-Moore Fund, the Robert L. and Mary L. Sproull Fund, the University of Rochester School of Arts and Sciences, Paul Marc & Pamela Miller Ness, Marguerite & James Quinn, and the Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation. Underwriting is also provided by New York State Council on the Arts and administered by Museum Association of New York. The October 18 symposium is sponsored by the Humanities Project, University of Rochester School of Arts & Sciences. 

Conservation of the Peters mural studies was made possible by Greater Hudson Heritage Network and the National Endowment for the Arts. more about the project

Programs and Events

  • Saturday, 10/17, 8–11 pm: Members’ Opening Party | get tickets
  • Sunday, 10/18 @ 10 am, all-day symposium: 
“The Rochester WPA Murals: History/Legacy” (limited spaces remain) | learn more
  • Sunday, 10/18 @ 3 pm, film screening: 
Enough to Live On: The Arts of the WPA | learn more
  • Wednesday, 10/21 @ 4:30 pm: Especially for Educators inservice | learn more
  • Sunday, 11/1 @ 2 pm: 
Michael Lasser presents “Let’s Have Another Cup of Coffee: 
Songs of the Great Depression” | learn more
  • Sunday, 11/15 @ 2 pm, film screening: 
Enough to Live On: The Arts of the WPA | learn more
  • Nine Saturdays starting 9/26: 
“Thinking Big,” teen/adult mural painting class (Creative Workshop)
    see catalog

Pictured: Carl W. Peters, Study for “Active Life” Mural. (1937–38). Gift in memory of the friendship of Ellen W. and Thomas H. Miller with Blanche and Carl W. Peters.