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40/40 NYA mural

On display is one of three murals that were originally painted by Harry Armstrong and the National Youth Administration in 1941. All three were dedicated in September 1941 and placed inside the auditorium of Manistee High School.

The finished oil-on-plywood murals are roughly 4 feet by 8 feet and were titled to reflect the three major activities for which the auditorium was used.

Musicians gathered around a campfire in a night encampment of covered wagon days carries out the "Music" theme on display here. A Native American theme, depicting an Iroquois dance of the False Face Clan, which was supposed to insure tribal health during the coming year, is featured in "Dance and Drama". "Oratory" has the scene of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address.


On September 24, 1941 the installed murals were unveiled during a morning assembly in the auditorium. Armstrong spoke briefly regarding the murals. Special music was then played for each mural - "Oh Susanna" for the covered wagon scene, a Native American selection for the "Dance and Drama" scene, and "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" for Lincoln's Gettysburg address.

The murals were mounted on the auditorium wall until 2003 and were donated to the museum in 2021.

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