New Mexico Museum of Art

Conserving Public Art

January 31, 2011


Conserving Public Art; The New Deal Artworks of  Gene Kloss and B.J.O. Nordfeldt

(Santa Fe, NM – January 31, 2011)—Public art produced with federal support during the Great Depression represents an important component of the New Mexico Museum of Art’s collection. The federal government still owns these works, but the museum is responsible for their care and conservation. Unfortunately, many were not matted, or had been improperly matted in the 1930s.

Recently a grant from the WPA Federal Art Project enabled these works by Gene Kloss and B.J.O. Nordfeldt to be matted properly for protection and preservation. These works demonstrate the museum’s commitment to conservation and best museum practices. Complete listing of the contents>.

B.J.O. Nordfeldt (1878 –1955) is best known for his modern, Cezanne-esque paintings. His iconic painting Antelope Dance, from 1919, is on display in How the West Is One, on the first floor. Nordfeldt’s lithographs from the 1930s are less well known. They reflect the ennui of the depression when jobs were scarce, as were tourists.

Gene Kloss (1903 –1996) became a popular printmaker during this period through her drypoint depictions of unique New Mexico scenes. Her prints produced with federal support offer striking contrasts of light and dark passages. Kloss’ best known works referenced winter rituals from northern New Mexico. These public works were widely acknowledged when they were displayed in post offices, libraries and schools.

The exhibition opens on Friday, February 4, 2011 with a free public reception hosted by the Women’s Board of the Museum of New Mexico from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.


The exhibition was funded by the New Mexico Chapter of the National New Deal Preservation Association.


Media Contact

Joseph Traugott, Curator New Mexico Art



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