Celebrating 80 years of Diego Rivera's 'Detroit Industry Murals'

Mar 26, 2013

It was 80 years ago this week that the Detroit Institute of Arts debuted the series of frescoes by Diego Rivera titled "The Detroit Industry Murals."

The 27 panels depict workers and industry in Detroit and Michigan's innovative technology. The murals, and Diego Rivera are renowned around the world.

80 years ago was a stormy time in Detroit history. It was a troubled time for workers, and the country was in the depths of the Depression.

A demonstration by unemployed workers led to five protesters being shot to death by Dearborn Police and Ford security guards - "The Ford Massacre" occurred on March 7th, 1932.

The unveiling of the murals at the DIA sparked a huge controversy. The Detroit News called for the walls of the court to be whitewashed.

The DIA weathered the storm and eventually "Detroit Industry" not only became "accepted," but hailed around the world as a masterpiece.

Unions and labor are in the headlines today, especially with Michigan becoming a right-to-work state this Thursday.

What would Diego Rivera say about the current state of labor and industry in Michigan right now?

Graham Beale is the President of the Detroit Institute of Arts.

Graham takes us back to the very beginning, when Diego Rivera was brought to Detroit to create these murals. He talks about the uproar that occurred after the unveiling of the murals and what they mean to us today.

Listen to the full interview above.