MMAC to Open Exhibition of Depression-Era Prints

A drawing of a worker holding a wrench to a thick bridge beam
Arthur G. Murphy, “Bridge Worker No. 6,” 1935, lithograph. Long-term loan courtesy the Fine Arts Program, U.S. General Services Administration.

MISSOULA – The Montana Museum of Art and Culture at the University of Montana will open a new exhibition featuring American prints from the Great Depression this month. “Works in Progress: Prints from the New Deal” will run Nov. 13 to Jan. 16, 2021.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, elected president of the United States in 1932, promised the American public a “New Deal” to end the Great Depression, the long economic downturn that followed the global stock market collapse of 1929. One of the programs he ushered in was the Works Progress Administration, which eventually employed over 8 million Americans and funded government construction of roads, bridges, airports and schools, as well as public art that left an indelible imprint on the nation’s memory.

Thousands of American artists and their families survived on the support of the W.P.A. in the 1930s and early 1940s, creating an array of imagery that depicted labor, industry, transportation, leisure and, perhaps most importantly, our shared humanity. The MMAC exhibition reveals the work of that generation – frank, yet optimistic prints that open a unique window on an unforgettable era of hardship and resilience.

The exhibition will be held in the Paxson Gallery of the Performing Arts and Radio Television Center on campus. A virtual docent tour, including a tour for kids, also will be available.


Contact: H. Rafael Chacón, Suzanne and Bruce Crocker director of MMAC, UM professor of art history and criticism, 406-243-2019,