Labor mural LePage had removed to get new home at Maine State Museum

A portion of the Maine History Labor Mural, by Seal Cove artist Judy Taylor, as it appeared on the walls of the Department of Labor in Augusta before it was ordered removed by Gov. Paul LePage in March 2011.
Larry Turner
A portion of the Maine History Labor Mural, by Seal Cove artist Judy Taylor, as it appeared on the walls of the Department of Labor in Augusta before it was ordered removed by Gov. Paul LePage in March 2011.
Posted Jan. 13, 2013, at 7:13 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 14, 2013, at 9:13 a.m.

AUGUSTA, Maine — The labor mural that Gov. Paul LePage had removed in 2011 from the lobby of the Department of Labor in Augusta has a new home, Labor Commissioner Jeanne Paquette and Maine State Museum Director Bernard Fishman announced Sunday.

The 11-panel Maine Labor History Mural, which depicts scenes in Maine’s labor history, will be officially hung in the atrium of the Cultural Building that houses the Maine State Museum.

The mural will be on public view beginning Monday, and the museum, which is normally closed on Mondays, will be open from 9 a.m. to noon, for those interested in viewing the artwork.

Paquette and Fishman will make brief remarks at 8:30 a.m. about the mural’s arrival.

“We are thrilled to make the mural available, as Gov. LePage always promised, to the people of Maine now that the litigation has ended,” Paquette said in a press release. “Our goal has always been to find a space that can fit the 33-foot work and also provide the security it now needs as a famous piece of art.”

Paquette added, “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. More people, especially students who visit the museum, will be able to see the mural than ever before.”

The Department of Labor maintains ownership of the mural, created by artist Judy Taylor, but has formally loaned it to the Maine State Museum for the next three years. The loan is renewable, the press release states.

“We are delighted to exhibit the mural and make it available to the people of Maine,” Fishman said in the statement. “As the new director of the Maine State Museum I have been pleased to work with the Department of Labor and the governor’s office on this project, and to help the museum fulfill its role as a place of meaning and value to all Mainers.”

Maine AFL-CIO President Don Berry said in a statement Sunday night that he was glad the labor mural will be on display for the public to view again.

“The history of Maine’s working people is a history we should all be very proud of. Working people have made enormous contributions to our state,” Berry said. “The governor’s actions disrespected generations of hard working people. It is disappointing that it took nearly two years for Gov. LePage to correct his actions. Now that it is removed from hiding, we hope people will visit the mural and engage Maine’s rich labor history.”

Jeffrey Neil Young, the attorney who represented the plaintiffs in a failed lawsuit aimed at restoring the mural to its original place in the Department of Labor, said his clients are happy with the decision to display Maine’s “most famous painting” in the state museum.

“My clients are pleased that Governor LePage has decided to display the labor history mural once again after it has been hidden from the public for almost two years,” Young said in a news release. “As the Attorney General stated two months ago in an argument before the First Circuit of Appeals in Boston, the mural is probably the most famous painting in Maine. The Maine State Museum, a place where Mainers go to learn about our history, is a fitting place to exhibit this most famous painting. The State Museum is one of Maine’s treasurers, and we hope that the mural will draw people to the Museum to learn about how working men and women came to build our great State.”

The atrium of the Cultural Building serves as the common entryway of the Maine State Museum, Maine State Library, and Maine State Archives.

The museum is regularly open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays.

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