Williams, Innamorato announce historic mural preservation project receives state support

PITTSBURGH, June 6 – A project to preserve a one-of-a-kind artistic masterpiece in Millvale has been awarded a state grant, state Rep. Sara Innamorato, D-Lawrenceville, and state Sen. Lindsey Williams, D-West View, announced today.

The $25,000 grant from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission will allow the Society to Preserve the Millvale Murals of Maxo Vanka to conduct a comprehensive study of the murals, the church in which they are housed, and the murals’ future requirements for preservation and presentation.

“The murals of Maxo Vanka are a one-of-a-kind artistic treasure to our region and the world,” Innamorato said. “I am proud to have supported the society’s grant application, and applaud the state’s decision to help preserve these vibrant, passionate and striking works of art. Although more than 75-years-old, Vanka’s work speaks to many of the social issues we continue to grapple with today, and are a fascinating fusion of faith, art and social justice that continues to inspire.”

“That Maxo Vanka gave what he called his ‘Gift to America’ to Millvale is so appropriate—these murals depict the history of our region, and of America, through images juxtaposing religion, industry, war, and the melting pot of European cultures that took place here in the early 1900s,” Williams said. “While it is unfortunate that soot and dirt from the very industries that they depict have damaged these works, I’m thankful that the PA Historical and Museum Commission sees the immense value held in the ongoing restoration of this rich history and in the work of the Society to Preserve the Millvale Murals of Maxo Vanka.”

Created between the years of 1937 and 1941, the 25 murals are unique, evocative and larger-than-life representations of faith and family; the immigrant experience in America; social justice and injustice and the horrors of war. They are housed on the walls of St. Nicholas Croatian Catholic Church and are widely considered some of the best examples of the nation’s mural art movement of the early 20th Century.

The grant was made possible through the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission’s Keystone Historic Preservation Grant program, which provides funding to support projects that identify, preserve, promote, and protect historic and archaeological resources in Pennsylvania for both the benefit of the public and the revitalization of communities. Funding also supports municipal planning initiatives that focus on historic resources or may be used to meet building or community-specific planning goals. The program also supports construction activities at resources listed in or eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places.