Kennedy Department of Justice Building: Shimin Mural – Washington DC

Project type: Art Works, Murals
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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.

Symeon Shimin painted the mural “Contemporary Justice and the Child” in 1940.  It was restored at one point after moisture in the wall damaged the tempura-on-canvas painting.

 “This intricate mural portrays two groups: on the left, the faces of dispossessed young boys and girls suggest the premature suffering of youth in an unnecessarily hard world. On the right, more ideal conditions are portrayed in which youth are provided the opportunity to develop their capacities. Between the two groups is a boy, looking directly ahead, ready to go forth from the protecting love of his mother to face the difficulties of the world. The two large hands holding a triangle and a compass symbolize planning and building.” (DoJ 2009)

The Shimin mural is located in the third floor stairway behind the Great Hall.

Source notes

U.S. Department of Justice, The Robert F. Kennedy Building: Celebrating Art and Architecture on the 75th Anniversary, 1934-2009, pp. 28-30.

Project originally submitted by Charles Swaney on March 14, 2014.
Additional contributions by Richard A Walker.

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


Location Info

950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530

Coordinates: 38.8929, -77.0250

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