by Sophie Touzé, M.F.A
Art History Professor
City College of San Francisco
This lesson explores why and how Diego Rivera’s gigantic mural Pan American Unity (1940) was made to be moved. After shedding light on what murals are and how they are made, the lesson identifies and examines the technical stepping-stones that led Rivera to launch into the creation of portable murals.
Students also learn about the global and cultural context of Pan American Unity; the lesson plan emphasizes the mural’s thematic elements and discusses Rivera’s perspective and plea for cultural solidarity amidst the dawning of World War II. Moving forward to present day, the lesson reviews how the sixty thousand pound mural was analyzed, studied, dislodged, protected, and moved yet again in 2021 using state-of-the-art methods, an international crew of experts—and enormous gumption.