Anchorage Museum acquires rare artworks from the 1937 WPA Alaska Art Project
August 18, 2003
The Museum made a significant addition to its Works Progress Administration (WPA) art collection recently when the Anchorage Museum Foundation purchased nearly 40 works of art in oil, pastel, watercolor and pencil by WPA artist Merlin Pollock (1905-1995).
In 1937, the Federal Works Progress Administration organized a special project to publicize Alaska through artwork. Twelve artists from the Midwest, New York and New England were selected to create work for an exhibition, and for nearly six months, they toured the state, sketching and painting as they went. The exhibition, however, never happened, and most of the artworks were sent to Mt. McKinley Park Hotel, where they were destroyed in a catastrophic fire that razed the hotel in 1972.
The Anchorage Museum has the largest collection of the surviving artworks from this project, representing just over half of the participating artists. The newly acquired artworks by Pollock show a group of landscapes from southeast Alaska to the Alaska Range and include views of canneries, mines, fishing villages and fishermen. A native of Wisconsin, Pollock studied at the Art Institute of Chicago and in France at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts and the Fontainebleau School of Fine Arts. After World War II he taught at Syracuse University until he retired. The collection of Pollock's works greatly enhances the Museum's holdings of WPA art.
Editors: Images of the Pollock paintings are available. For more information, call (907) 343-6151.