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 5 of 5)

  • Miami All American Air Races
    Country of Origin: United States of America
    Other: National Aeronautic Association
    Date: January 11, 12, 13, 1933
    Type: ART-Posters, Original Art Quality
  • International Air Races and Gordon Bennett Balloon Race
    Country of Origin: United States of America
    Sponsor: Chicago Daily News
    Other: National Aeronautic Association
    Date: September 1-4, 1933
    Type: ART-Posters, Original Art Quality
  • Air Show 4th of July
    Country of Origin: United States of America
    Sponsor: American Legion
    Pilot: Betty Skelton Frankman
    Beverly "Bevo" Howard, 1914-1971
    Clem Whittenbeck
    Sponsor: National Aeronautic Association
    Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW)
    Date: 1945
    Type: ART-Posters, Original Art Quality
  • National Air Races
    Country of Origin: United States of America
    Sponsor: National Aeronautic Association
    Date: August 27, 1932-September 5, 1932
    Type: ART-Posters, Original Art Quality
  • The Cord Cup Race Transcontinental Sweepstakes Handicap Air Derby
    Country of Origin: United States of America
    Sponsor: Auburn Automobile Co.
    National Aeronautic Association
    Date: 1932
    Type: ART-Posters, Original Art Quality