The McKinley County Fine Arts Committee, a volunteer group, assembled a digital archive of the existing courthouse artwork. It presents information about the murals, the art, and the artisanship of the New Deal that has been preserved within the courthouse -and which is the centerpiece of this website.
The website offers a tour of the McKinley County Courthouse and the New Deal art within it. Both are part of the visual legacy of the WPA New Deal era that has been left in the care of New Mexico’s communities. Gallup, New Mexico had a front row seat to the human drama of the Great Depression. This historic art collection does not tell the story of the profound hardships of Americans during this time: instead it opens a window onto that period and speaks of the enduring creative spirit that was kept active when perhaps it was most needed by the nation. The art and the artisanship represented here is part of a larger number of artworks in this community created by the diverse cultures that are a part of our state’s and our nation’s history.
The website includes summaries of the events that precipitated the Great Depression, the nation’s attempt to cope with its immensity, the impact of President Roosevelt’s New Deal on New Mexico and on Gallup. The website is designed to grow as information about the art and the people who lived during this most important time contribute to its content.
The McKinley County Fine Arts Committee’s mission is to preserve and secure McKinley County’s New Deal art for present and future generations to enjoy, and to recall the era in the nation’s history this collection represents. The two generations most affected by the Great Depression are now fewer in number and their stories are too important to be lost to the generations who have yet to hear them.
Using 21st century technology to archive and disseminate the art and architecture of an historic period is similar to the New Deal visionaries’ use of the new technology of their time to promote and chronicle the New Deal.
The website is designed to expand public interest and awareness in the New Deal art and its architecture and in appreciating its importance within the context it was originally created. It is essential to its survival as part of New Mexico’s history. It is important to ask: Who were the voices that spoke through their art? What was their message? To whom were they speaking?