November 2009 Archives

At long last, Madison, Wis., is poised to get a new central library branch.  Although the current building dates only to 1965, it's a pretty bleak, worn space.  I'm glad to see the city move ahead with this, especially in a tough economy.

But there's one aspect of the planning that's uncertain and quite troubling.  A mural by the regionalist Aaron Bohrod, a former WPA artist whose work was also featured in the pages of Life, Time and Look magazines, is in danger.  It's unclear if and how it will be preserved when the existing library is demolished.

For details, see Jay Rath's Nov. 13 article in Isthmus, "Will the Aaron Bohrod mural at the downtown Madison library survive?"  As Jay notes, a John Steuart Curry work elsewhere in town (on the UW campus) is being preserved amid construction.  Curry's gig as artist-in-residence at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (in the College of Agriculture, no less) was the first time any university had set up such an arrangement.

It would be a great shame if, as Madison moves ahead with one worthy cultural goal, it lets another one--preserving our heritage--fall by the wayside.

Update added Dec. 2:

The Wisconsin State Journal reported last week that the city has hired a conservator to study ways the mural might be preserved.  For details, see Dean Mosiman's article from Nov. 26.
November 17, 2009 3:22 PM | | Comments (2)

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