Entitled “A History of Books and Printing,” the murals were painted as a Works Progress Administration ( WPA) project in 1940-41 by Fritz Fuglister and carefully restored in 2003 by artist/restorer John Arapoff as part of a complete renovation and expansion.
Pictured here, the North Wall.
Photos of the Rotunda Mural taken by Evan Kalish c. 2014
The artist-painted description (pictured here): “Showing Ancient Egyptian, Chinese and Greek methods; the works of the early Europeans and Persians; the period of transition, with Gutenburg [sic] the inventor of printing with movable type; early English and American formats; the development of the machine, the Lineotype, the Camera and the Press.”
The Works Projects Administration (WPA) was the largest and most ambitious New Deal agency, employing millions of Americans during the Great Depression in the United States. Between 1935 and 1943, the WPA provided over eight million jobs to unskilled workers to carry out public works projects; including the construction of public buildings, roads and sidewalks, and operated large arts, drama, media, and literacy projects.
The WPA was a national program that operated its own projects in cooperation with state and local governments, which provided 10%-30% of the costs. The national goal was full employment; the WPA goal was to provide one paid job for all families where there was unemployment. On June 30, 1943 as a result of low unemployment due to the economic boom of World War II, the WPA liquidated its agency.
Source credit: Smith, Jason Scott (2006). Building New Deal Liberalism: The Political Economy of Public Works, 1933–1956. New York: Cambridge University Press. p. 87. ISBN 9780521828055.