One of the nation's great troves of Progressive and New Deal murals is the subject of new tours led by the woman who wrote the book on them.
Most of the more than 400 murals, which are found throughout Chicago public schools, have been restored in an effort triggered in 1994, when Heather Becker, now chief executive of the Chicago Conservation Center, got a call from a teacher at Lane Technical High School who reported murals "that were falling off the wall," she said.
Becker investigated and found 66 murals at Lane alone. In her 2002 book, "Art for the People: The Rediscovery and Preservation of Progressive and WPA-Era Murals in the Chicago Public Schools, 1904-1943," Becker documents the campaign to save this artwork, which she thinks is the largest such collection held by a single U.S. institution.
Chicago became a hub for public art around 1935 because its artists studied with the great Mexican muralists, Becker said. Her tour, which runs 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., with lunch, costs $50 and will be offered Saturday and on Oct. 23 and Nov. 20.