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Grant number like: PG-280727-21

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East Martello Gallery & Museum (Key West, FL 33040-8313)
Cori Convertito (Project Director: January 2021 to September 2023)

Preservation Assistance Grants
Preservation and Access

[Grant products]

$6,800 (approved)
$6,800 (awarded)

Grant period:
9/1/2021 – 8/31/2022

WPA Collection Assessment

A paper conservator’s preservation assessment of the Workers Progress Administration collection, recommendations from which would be integrated into the Key West Art and Historical Society's long-range plans. Its WPA collection includes 250 works of art on paper, paintings, photographs, and ephemera (including guidebooks, brochures, print blocks, post cards, and promotional materials) that document the  interwar period, when works produced under the WPA’s Federal Art Project played a central role in preserving cultural life in Key West. The Society already has a  permanent exhibition space dedicated to display works in the WPA collection, and it has begun to digitize items in its collection to make them more widely available.

The Key West Art and Historical Society will assess its Works Progress Administration (WPA) collection and develop priorities for future conservation of significant items. A professional conservator will conduct the assessment at the Historic Custom House Museum and make strategic recommendations. KWAHS, founded in 1949, is a small organization that has never received an NEH grant. It has the largest known collection of Key West WPA art and ephemera, to which it dedicates a permanent gallery. WPA intervention in the 1930s was instrumental in re-inventing bankrupt Key West as a tourist destination. Guides, brochures and postcards were distributed nationally in the hopes of drawing visitors to the struggling island. Success was shown in 1934-1935 by an 86% increase in hotel registrations as an estimated 67,154 persons visited. The echoes reverberate today: tourism is the leading industry. The WPA collection is central to the institution, and vital to the community’s history.