Stanton MacDonald Wright

Technical and Imaginative Pursuits of Early Man

1935, remounted in the Santa Monica Public Library in 2006. Please also check Santa Monica Public Library's excellent site devoted to the mural at

Text from a July 30, 2008, SMPL press release" The mural, which is on loan to the city of Santa Monica from the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C., was created by the artist between 1934 and 1935 for one of the original city libraries. The mural cycle was on view in the library's reading room for 30 years before it was transferred to the federal government. Except for occasional exhibitions, including a major retrospective exhibition of Macdonald-Wright in 2001, the panels making up the mural were largely in storage for the next 40 years. In 2005 the city was awarded a California Cultural and Historical Endowment grant to conserve and re-install the Library Mural in the new Main Library then under construction.

The 2,000 square foot Library Mural is one of the largest projects undertaken in Southern California under the auspices of the New Deal art projects. The mural series, comprised of 38 painted plywood panels, details the evolution of the creative arts and sciences beginning with prehistoric times and culminating with the motion picture industry. Stanton Macdonald-Wright (1890-1973), who was raised in Santa Monica, was a significant artist and renowned teacher in California as well as an internationally-acclaimed modernist.

Following its conservation in 2005, the Library Mural was re-installed in the new Main Library which opened in January 2006. As City Librarian Greg Mullen notes, "The mural adds color and character to the second floor of the Library. It also provides a link to the history of Santa Monica and the Library. It's clear that the decision to bring the mural back to the new Library after so many years is of great significance to the community, and we appreciate the loan of the mural from the Smithsonian American Art Museum."

Back to Murals on the West Side