Fly Now! The National Air and Space Museum Poster Collection

Throughout their history, posters have been a significant means of mass communication, often with striking visual effect. Wendy Wick Reaves, the Smithsonian Portrait Gallery Curator of Prints and Drawings, comments that "sometimes a pictorial poster is a decorative masterpiece-something I can't walk by without a jolt of aesthetic pleasure. Another might strike me as extremely clever advertising … But collectively, these 'pictures of persuasion,' as we might call them, offer a wealth of art, history, design, and popular culture for us to understand. The poster is a familiar part of our world, and we intuitively understand its role as propaganda, promotion, announcement, or advertisement."

Reaves' observations are especially relevant for the impressive array of aviation posters in the National Air and Space Museum's 1300+ artifact collection. Quite possibly the largest publicly-held collection of its kind in the United States, the National Air and Space Museum's posters focus primarily on advertising for aviation-related products and activities. Among other areas, the collection includes 19th-century ballooning exhibition posters, early 20th-century airplane exhibition and meet posters, and twentieth-century airline advertisements.

The posters in the collection represent printing technologies that include original lithography, silkscreen, photolithography, and computer-generated imagery. The collection is significant both for its aesthetic value and because it is a unique representation of the cultural, commercial and military history of aviation. The collection represents an intense interest in flight, both public and private, during a significant period of its technological and social development.

Your Search Results (1 to 3 of 3)

  • 1er Salon International de l'Aéronautique
    Country of Origin: France
    Manufacturer: Affiches F. Lochard
    Sponsor: Automobile Club of France
    Credit Line: Museum Purchase
    Date: December 24-30, 1908
    Type: ART-Posters, Original Art Quality
  • Latham Flying, Reims August 22, 1909
    Country of Origin: France
    Pilot: Hubert Latham, 1883-1912
    Date: 1909
    Type: ART-Posters, Original Art Quality
  • Compagnie Générale Transaérienne
    Country of Origin: France
    Printmaker: Bougard
    Sponsor: Compagnie Générale Transaérienne, France, 1909 - 1922
    Date: 1909
    Type: ART-Posters, Original Art Quality