In 1932, Indiana Governor Harry G. Leslie tasked Col. Richard Lieber, the first director of the Department of Conservation, with helming the Indiana Commission for the Century of Progress Exposition. Wanting to depart from the typical state fair display of threshing machines and farm produce, Lieber proposed a 250-foot mural showcasing state history.
A dream fulfilled
The contract went to relative unknown Thomas Hart Benton. The muralist asked for complete artistic freedom on the job, including the composition of the overall narrative and the realistic treatment of social facts. His request was granted.