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The New Deal program spurred artists to do their best work with the assurance that their art would be displayed to a wide audience in public spaces. Sure enough, in April 1934 more than 500 works created under the Public Works of Art Project were exhibited at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington.

Attending the show’s opening were the Roosevelts, who selected 32 paintings for the White House (seven of these are in the exhibit), as well as members of Congress and Cabinet secretaries who chose works to adorn their offices.

No president since Roosevelt has had such a positive view of artists and their role in society. “One hundred years from now my administration will be known for its art, not for its relief,” the 32nd president once said. This exhibit supports his prediction through its collective vision of a hopeful nation during hard times.

WHAT: “1934: A New Deal for Artists”

WHERE: Smithsonian American Art Museum, Eighth and F streets Northwest

WHEN: 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily; through Jan. 3

ADMISSION: Free

PHONE: 202/633-1000

WEB SITE: www.americanart.si.edu