The Murals


Preparing for the future, while preserving the past

The Murals

In the spring of 2004, the Royal Oak WPA Murals were rediscovered after being in storage for over 25 years. The murals were created with financing by the Works Progress Administration Program (WPA) which provided work relief for many unemployed persons during the Great Depression of the 1930's.

Part of that program was aimed at encouraging the creative arts. This inclusion provided opportunities for unemployed artists to create music, drama, and artworks such as the Royal Oak murals without having to worry about putting food on the table. The Royal Oak Mural Project was the largest WPA art project in Michigan.

The three oil-on-canvas murals in this collection each measure approximately eleven feet wide by twenty-three feet long. They offer an artistic glimpse at the history and future of the Royal Oak Community.

Two different artists painted the three murals, accounting for the differing styles of the artworks. Andrew Maglia worked on the first two paintings. Maglia bowed out when funding ran out; when funding was renewed Bronislaw Makielski was commissioned to complete the project.

Today the three murals proudly hang in the auditorium of Royal Oak Middle School. They have become a symbol for community members who recognize the value of their shared past and celebrate the vitality of working together for a common goal.

On-going fundraising efforts continue to ensure maintenance of the murals. Use the Mural Donation form to make a tax-free donation.

Filmmaker Ruben Rodriguez of VideoWorks Inc. followed the work of the murals committee for five years, resulting in the one-hour documentary "The Murals of Royal Oak." You can watch it with this link.

Auditorium Murals

Mural 1
"The Naming of Royal Oak" features Michigan's first governor Lewis Cass shown with Chief Pontiac. Cass is believed to have given the city its name after sitting under a giant oak tree and remarking "This is truly a great royal oak". The site is still marked by a monument.

Mural 2
"The Cultural Arts" illustrates various creative arts.

Mural 3
"The Royal Oak Community"