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Public Works of Art Project selected administrative and business records, 1933-1936

Historical Note

The Public Works of Art Project (PWAP), the first of the New Deal art programs, was established under the Department of the Treasury in December 1933 to assist unemployed artists by enabling them to work on the decoration of non-federal public buildings. Although it lasted only until the following summer, it engaged nearly 4,000 artists in all parts of the country and served as an important precedent for subsequent federal art programs, such as the Federal Art Project of the Works Progress Administration. Later art projects administered under the Department of the Treasury were the Section of Fine Arts, originally the Section of Painting and Sculpture, and the Treasury Relief Art Project, both of which served to employ artists to decorate federal buildings across the United States.