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Murals are admired by America Today: The Met unveils new Thomas Hart Benton exhibition

The Metropolitan Museum of Art just opened Thomas Hart Benton’s America Today Mural Rediscovered. The new exhibition features the work of mural artist, Missouri native and Art Institute of Chicago student Thomas Hart Benton (1889–1975), showcasing his epic mural America Today, which was given to the museum by AXA Equitable Life Insurance Company.

“This exhibition is the culmination of an extraordinary partnership between the Metropolitan and AXA, which donated the mural to the Museum and also serves as the exhibition’s sponsor, says Thomas P. Campbell, Director and CEO of the Metropolitan Museum.

Illustrating a panorama of rural and urban life in the states during the 1920s, America Today is one of Benton’s most renowned works and is considered to be one of the most significant accomplishments in American art of the period. Under the arm of New York’s New School for Social Research, Benton originally painted the 10-panel mural for the boardroom of the International Style in 1930-31. For the current exhibition, the museum has installed the mural within the context of the boardroom so viewers may experience it as Benton initially intended.

“The Metropolitan’s presentation of Benton’s great mural will shed new light on this visually and intellectually stimulating landmark in American art of the early 1930s, especially as the museum will display the mural as the artist originally intended it to be seen. Positioning the mural’s new home in the context of the Metropolitan’s diverse collections, the exhibition also tells a unique story rooted in New York’s own cultural history,” ” Campbell continues.

“The Department of Modern and Contemporary Art is thrilled to debut AXA’s great gift of Benton’s remarkable America Today mural in the American Wing, where the artist’s expansive vision of life in the United States will resonate deeply with John Vanderlyn’s grand panorama, 19th-century genre painting, and Thomas Cole’s philosophical landscapes, among other treasures,” adds Sheena Wagstaff, the Museum’s Leonard A. Lauder Chairman of Modern and Contemporary Art.

While American mural painting was at its zenith during President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal public art programs of the 1930s and 1940s, mural painting can still be practiced—even in your own home. WhiteyBoard makes Dry Erase Murals with a clear Paint (paint kit $35; markers $0.99 each) which enables aspiring muralists to draw all over the walls, and wipe it off.

For more information on Whiteyboard products, visit http://www.whiteyboard.com/products/dry-erase-paint.html. For details on the Thomas Hart Benton’s America Today Mural Rediscovered exhibition, visit www.metmuseum.org.

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