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In 1932 Edsel Ford and Detroit Institute of Arts director, William Valentiner, commissioned Mexian artist, Diego Rivera, to paint murals for the museum’s Garden Court. The only rule was the work must relate to the history of Detroit and the development of industry. The project took approximately 8 months and was unveiled on this day in 1933 to massive controversy. A Detroit News editorial called them “foolishly vulgar” and called for them to be whitewashed. Religious, academic and civic organizations also demanded removal of the art. Famed archtitect Albert Kahn defended them. As a result of the uproar, 10,000 people came to see them on the first Sunday viewing. Today they are considered by most to be Diego Rivera’s best work, and an epic depiction of industry in America.

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