Kennedy Department of Justice Building: Shimin Mural – Washington DC

State:
WASHINGTON-DC

Site Type:
Art Works, Murals

New Deal Agencies:
Treasury Section of Fine Arts (TSFA), Federal & Military Operations, Arts Programs, Treasury Department

Completed:
1940

Artist:
Symeon Shimin

Quality of Information:
Very Good

Site Survival:
Extant

Description

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.

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

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