The Santa Monica Public Library has launched a Web site at www.smpl.org/mural/ to feature the Library Mural by artist Stanton Macdonald-Wright.
The mural, which is on loan to the City of Santa Monica from the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C., was created by the artist between 1934 and 1935 for one of the original city libraries.
The mural cycle was on view in the library’s reading room for 30 years before it was transferred to the federal government, library staff said. Except for occasional exhibitions, including a major retrospective exhibition of Macdonald-Wright in 2001, the panels making up the mural were largely in storage for the next 40 years.
In 2005 the city was awarded a California Cultural and Historical Endowment grant to conserve and re-install the Library Mural in the new Main Library, which was then under construction.
The 2,000-square-foot Library Mural was one of the largest projects undertaken in Southern California under the auspices of the New Deal art projects in the 1930s, library staff said. The mural series, comprised of 38 painted plywood panels, details the evolution of the creative arts and sciences, beginning with prehistoric times and culminating with the motion picture industry.
Macdonald-Wright (1890-1973), who was raised in Santa Monica, was an artist and teacher in California as well as an internationally-acclaimed modernist.
Following its conservation in 2005, the Library Mural was re-installed in the new Main Library, which opened in January 2006.
“The mural adds color and character to the second floor of the library, city librarian Greg Mullen says. “It also provides a link to the history of Santa Monica and the library.
“It’s clear that the decision to bring the mural back to the new library after so many years is of great significance to the community, and we appreciate the loan of the mural from the Smithsonian American Art Museum.”
The Web site features the history of the mural, a facsimile of the catalogue in which the artist described the mural’s creation and narrative themes, information on its original and contemporary installations as well as the mural’s conservation.
The site also features an exploration tool that allows the viewer to zoom in on details of the mural, including more than 160 historical and mythological figures that are represented. Visitors may also share their memories of the mural, past and present.
Information, www.smpl .org/mural/.