Bob Hansen

This world map mural is in the Herbert C. Hoover, U.S. Department of Commerce auditorium in Washington, DC.  It was painted by Gardner Hale in 1931 in time for the building's opening in 1932.  At it's completion, the Commerce Building was the largest office building in the world and the auditorium was used for a large number of public events. The black and white photograph shows the mural in all it's glory spanning the entire width of the stage. The other black and white photo shows a small unfinished portion on the left side of the stage. In the early 1960s, the auditorium was renovated and stage enlarged with stage curtains added. Since that renovation, the vast majority of the time, the curtain is closed and often with a screen placed in front. It is a rare occurrence the curtains are left open to reveal the mural. The entire building is currently undergoing a major multi-year renovation and the mural is scheduled to be included as part of the renovation plan. Gardner Hale (1894-1931) was a mural artist and known for his work in the revival of fresco painting. Better known family members were his father, William Gardner Hale, a politically connected American classical scholar and Gardner's wife, Dorothy Hale, an actress who is best known as the subject of Frida Kahlo's painting, "The suicide of Dorothy Hale". 

Bob gave this additional comment:  "It's the only mural in the Commerce Building unlike many of the other Federal Office was pre-WPA. Gardner Hale did a lot of frescos and murals for wealthy clients' homes.  I do quite a few events in that auditorium, so I see (and stare at it) on a regular basis...but most people don't know it is even there."