New Deal Artwork: GSA's Inventory Project
New Deal Art Stewardship
During the New Deal era, the U.S. Government administered four separate art projects that operated from 1933 to 1943. The projects produced thousands of paintings, sculpture, and works on paper.
Public Works of Art Project (PWAP), 1933-1934: The Public Works of Art Project was the first federal art project for artists. Artists were on payrolls and received weekly salaries.
The Section of Fine Arts (The Section), 1934-1943: Originally called the Section of Painting and Sculpture, the Section of Fine Arts awarded commissions to artists through competitions. The primary objective was to secure the best quality artwork for installation into public buildings.
Treasury Relief Art Project (TRAP), 1935-1938: Though it was under the supervision of the Treasury Department, the Treasury Relief Art Project employed artists to create paintings and sculptures for existing federal buildings.
Works Progress Administration, Federal Art Project (WPA/FAP), 1935-1942: The Federal Art Project was the largest of the New Deal art programs in both its scope and the number of artists employed.
In 1934, the federal government began loaning or allocating the movable artworks created under the New Deal art programs to public agencies and nonprofit institutions. The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) is the federal agency that is responsible for inventorying these loaned artworks.
GSA’s Fine Arts Program catalogues movable New Deal artworks housed in non-federal repositories. In collaboration with repositories, GSA aims to provide a centralized resource of information about New Deal artwork that is readily available to museum professionals, the academic community, art conservators and the public at large. To date, over 20,000 artworks have been located. We continue to work with the museum community to develop cooperative agreements for the future care of and responsibility for these important works of art.
The publication WPA Artworks in Non-Federal Repositories, Edition II, December 1999, is no longer available. If your institution houses New Deal works of art or you would like more information, please send the request to:
Fine Arts Program
Office of the Chief Architect
U.S. General Services Administration
1800 F Street, NW
Washington, DC 20405