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A Brief History of American Mural Art - Walking Tour

  • Worcester Public Library 3 Salem Street Worcester, MA, 01608 United States (map)

An Introduction to American mural art history through a selection of Worcester’s downtown murals.

Tours leave from the Worcester Public Library (Library Lane entrance) and ends in the Hanover Theatre parking lot.

Each tours runs 1.5 hours and will take place on Sunday August 21st at 11am, 1pm, and 3pm.

$10 per person. All proceeds from this event will benefit POW! WOW! Worcester. Limit 10 people per tour. Please use Eventbrite link to reserve your ticket today:


Downtown Worcester is home to a microcosm of America’s mural history. Public art has responded to various social, economic, and political needs around the United States of America throughout the 20th and 21st centuries. The tour begins with an overview of the Work Projects Administration (WPA), a program that was part of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal. It was during this time that America’s public art collection boomed. These government commissioned works depicted grand landscapes, agricultural fields, and Americans hard at work. During the 60s and 70s, as racial tensions, escalated murals served as a tool of expression, empowering Latino and Black populations with images of great leaders of color. These murals were mostly concentrated in urban centers including Los Angeles, Cincinnati, and New York. In 1984, Jane Golden spearheaded the Anti-Graffiti Network in Philadelphia and started a youth program that channeled graffiti writer’s efforts towards public art projects. This program evolved into the nations largest mural program. Consequently, street art, a contemporary art movement essentially started by children, evolved and grew acceptance into the fine art world.

More recently, a global movement to celebrate the arts and culture has inspired communities to host entire festivals dedicated to this art form. Jasper Wong privately founded the POW! WOW! mural festival brand in Hong Kong and then Hawaii in 2011. Worcester will be hosting New England's first POW! WOW! Worcester mural festival this year! Today's mural art is a product of all that came before it, these large-scale works of art celebrate values of equity and expression, as well as, generate thoughtful dialogue to inspire progress. This tour delves into the history of American mural art nationally and highlights local efforts towards these movements.

Research for this tour was supported by the College of the Holy Cross Summer Research in the Humanities, Social Sciences, and Fine Arts Program

Meet your AWESOME tour guide - Sarah!

Meet your AWESOME tour guide - Sarah!

Later Event: August 22
POW! WOW! Worcester Study Hall