New York Public Library Murals – New York NY

Project type: Art, Murals
Quality of Information:
Site Survival:
View Project in a Separate Window


The McGraw Rotunda of the 5th Ave. library building contains a set of WPA murals: “It features The Story of the Recorded Word, a set of four large arched panels by Edward Laning, were executed for the McGraw Rotunda of the New York Public Library Main Branch from 1938 to 1942 as part of a Works Progress Admistration (WPA) Project, with supplies furnished by Isaac Phelps Stokes, author of the Iconography of Manhattan Island. Laning depicted the story of the recorded word across each of the murals.

The first mural, to the left of the entrance to the Catalog Room, Moses with the Tablets of Law, depicts Moses, as recorded in the Book of Expodus, descending from Mount Sinai with the Ten Commandments. The second mural, The Medieval Scribe, to the right of the same door, depicts a monk of the Middle Ages copying a manuscript while, behind him him, is a scene of destruction and rapine. In the third, to the left of the doorway to Room 316 is Gutenberg Showing a Proof to the Elector of Mainz, which depicts Johann Gutenberg showing a proof of his Bible to Adolph of Nassau, Elector of Mainz… The fourth, to the right, The Linotype-Mergenthaler and Whitelaw Reid, depicts America’s contribution–Ottmar Mergenthaler at the keyboard of his linotype as his patron, Whitelaw Reid of the New York Tribune, examines a page printed by the new device…”   (flickr)

Another smaller mural in the same room (also pictured here) is believed to be by the same artist.

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


Location Info

455 5th Ave.
New York, NY 10016

Coordinates: 40.752768, -73.98144

Leave a Reply

Before leaving a comment, please note:

  • Comments allow viewers to share information with others or alert us to errors or changes in a New Deal site.
  • We are not involved in the management of New Deal sites and have no information about visits, hours or rentals.
  • This page shows all the information we have for this site; if you have new information or photos to share, click below.


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

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.