Detail from Henry Varnum Poor murals, Dept of Justice - Washington DC
The New Deal is responsible for a magnificent array of artworks that embellish the Department of Justice building. The Treasury Section of Fine Arts commissioned artists to create 68 murals between 1936 and 1941 for $68,000, or one percent of the building cost. The building’s murals depict scenes of daily life from American history and allegories on the role of justice in American society.
Henry Varnum Poor painted a complex, 12-panel fresco mural, “Justice Department Bureaus and Divisions,” in 1936.
The first set of panels around the doorways of rooms 5111 and 5114 depict the activities of the Bureau of Prisons and the Attorney General arguing a case before the Supreme Court.
The second set of panels around the doorways of rooms 5137 and 5138 illustrates the activities of the Bureau of Lands and Customs and includes the surveying of Indian lands in the Southwest and the beginnings of scientific crime detection by the FBI.
The frescoes are located on the fifth floor of the Kennedy building.
U.S. Department of Justice, The Robert F. Kennedy Building: Celebrating Art and Architecture on the 75th Anniversary, 1934-2009, pp. 53-56.
Project originally submitted by Charles Swaney on March 14, 2014.
Additional contributions by Richard A Walker.
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