Maine labor mural removed by governor has new home
AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) – A mural depicting labor history that Gov. Paul LePage ordered removed from the Maine Department of Labor lobby is going back on display in an atrium that serves as the entryway to the Maine State Museum, Maine State Library and Maine State Archives, the administration announced Sunday evening.
The Department of Labor announced that the mural, which has been hidden away for nearly 22 months, its whereabouts unknown, would go on display beginning Monday.
Labor Commissioner Jeanne Paquette said the mural’s display fulfills the governor’s promise to put it back on public view at an appropriate venue.
“The museum has the space, the expertise, and the security to best house this work of art. It is also far more accessible and more public than the lobby of the labor offices,” she said. “More people, especially students who visit the museum, will be able to see the mural than ever before.”
The Republican governor created an uproar in 2011 when he ordered the removal of the 11-panel, 7-foot-tall mural because he believed it presented a one-sided view of history that bowed to organized labor and overlooked the contributions of entrepreneurs responsible for creating jobs.
The mural’s scenes included World War II’s Rosie the Riveter, a 1937 shoe strike in Maine and New Deal-era U.S. Labor Secretary Frances Perkins, among others.
The mural’s hiatus that began in March 2011, and the ensuing public backlash proved to be a distraction for LePage.
Labor Department spokeswoman Julie Rabinowitz said she didn’t know where it was kept, but said the mural was in crates and remained in the property of the Department of Labor while hidden from public view. On Sunday, it went back on display while the Maine State Museum, Maine State Library and Maine State Archives were closed to the public, she said.
The agreement was announced by Paquette and Maine State Museum Director Bernard Fishman. The mural’s artist, Judy Taylor, agreed to the terms, which call for it to be placed on loan for three years, subject to renewal, Rabinowitz said.
The mural was commissioned by then-Democratic Gov. John Baldacci.
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