Brooklyn Museum (Williamsburg Houses) Murals – Brooklyn NY


In 1936, “when the United States was still reeling from the Great Depression, a series of murals was commissioned by the Federal Art Project (FAP), to be painted in the community rooms at the Williamsburg Public Housing development in Brooklyn, NY. This development was built in 1936-37, designed by the chief architect William Lescaze.

The head of the New York Murals of the FAP division in 1937 was Burgoyne Diller. It was a brave move to commission a series of abstract murals from avant-garde, relatively unknown artists. At the time, most murals (perhaps all) were figurative…

The artists whose murals were found in the Williamsburg Housing Development were Paul Kelpe (1902-85), Ilya Bolotowsky (1907-81), Balcomb Greene (1904-90), and Albert Swinden (1901-61). Diller, an abstract artist himself, put his own art on hold in order to promote “abstract art in murals before abstract art was accepted in the United States” (Ilya Bolotowsky, quoted in Arts Magazine, June 1982: Abstractions for Public Spaces, 1935-1943 by Greta Berman); he had to justify every abstract mural he placed.”   (historicgreenpoint)

Over the years, the murals were neglected. Some deteriorated and some were lost. In the 1980s, the murals were finally restored and returned to public view at the Brooklyn Museum.

Source notes

Project originally submitted by Evan Kalish on July 12, 2013.

We welcome contributions of additional information on any New Deal project site.


Location Info

200 Eastern Pkwy
Brooklyn, NY 11238

Location notes: The housing project where the murals were originally installed stretches from Leonard St. to Bushwick Ave. and Scholes St. to Maujer St. Some or all of the remaining murals are now at this location, the Brooklyn Museum.

Coordinates: 40.671151, -73.9634765

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