Installation of artwork.

Bank of America Art Conservation Project + SFMOMA Diego Rivera Pan American Unity Mural

Installation of artwork

Diego Rivera, The Marriage of the Artistic Expression of the North and of the South on this Continent (Pan American Unity), 1940; © Banco de México Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo Museums Trust, Mexico D.F. / Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York; image: courtesy City College of San Francisco

One of the most important works of public art in the city, Diego Rivera’s fresco mural, Pan American Unity, is now displayed in the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s (SFMOMA) free-to-visit gallery. The mural, measuring 22 feet high by 74 feet wide and comprised of ten fresco panels, is the largest portable mural created by Rivera, and his last made in the United States. The Bank of America Art Conservation Project recently helped fund the SFMOMA’s restoration of this work, which is on loan from City College of San Francisco.

Rivera created the mural in 1940 to headline the main fine arts exhibition of the Golden Gate International Exposition on Treasure Island, where local and international artists created works of painting, sculpture, mosaic, textiles, ceramics, prints, metalwork and woodcarving before a rapt audience. Working on a scaffold in an airplane hangar before a live audience, Rivera painted The Marriage of the Artistic Expression of the North and of the South on This Continent, more commonly known as Pan American Unity. 

The fresco, rich in symbolism and imagery, depicts in colorful detail a past, present, and future that the artist believed were shared across North America, calling for cultural solidarity and exchange during a time of global conflict. With scenes of the Bay Area as a backdrop, it celebrates the creative spirit through portraits of artists, artisans, architects, and inventors who use art and technology as tools to shape society.

Twenty years after the fair, Pan American Unity was moved to the main campus of City College of San Francisco (CCSF) and has been on view in the Diego Rivera Theater since 1961. More than half a century later, an international team of experts have successfully executed another move from CCSF to SFMOMA. 

The project to move the mural from CCSF to SFMOMA was four years in the making and the culmination of extensive investigation, research and preparation. A team of experts explored the engineering, conservation and scientific requirements for moving such a monumental, historic and fragile work of art. In 2023, the mural will return to CCSF to be installed in a new Performing Arts Center on its main campus.

The bank’s Art Conservation Project provides grants to nonprofit museums to conserve historically or culturally significant works of art that are in danger of degeneration. Bank of America is also presenting sponsor of the upcoming SFMOMA exhibition Diego Rivera’s America, which will open in summer 2022.

Learn more about the Bank of America Art Conservation Project.

Learn more about Pan American Unity, A Mural by Diego Rivera.