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 12 of 39)

  • International Aviation Tournament Belmont Park
    Country of Origin: United States of America
    Manufacturer: American Lithographic Co.
    Date: 1910
    Type: ART-Posters, Original Art Quality
  • Hempstead Plains Aviation Field Races
    Country of Origin: United States of America
    Sponsor: Hempstead Plains Aviation Field
    Pilot: John Guy Gilpatric, 1896 - 1950
    Date: 1914
    Type: ART-Posters, Original Art Quality
  • Harvard-Boston Aero Meet
    Country of Origin: United States of America
    Artist: Bartholomew
    Credit Line: Gift of Bella Clara Landauer.
    Date: 1910
    Type: ART-Posters, Original Art Quality
  • Aviation Meet See the Birdwoman Fly
    Country of Origin: United States of America
    Pilot: Alys McKey, circa 1890-1954
    Frank Bryant
    John Milton Bryant, 1887-1913
    Printmaker: Pacific Stationary and Printing Co.
    Date: circa 1913
    Type: ART-Posters, Original Art Quality
  • Army Aviation Carnival
    Country of Origin: United States of America
    Manufacturer: J. M. Tooker Printing Co.
    Date: October 26, 1918
    Type: ART-Posters, Original Art Quality
  • Army Aviation Carnival
    Country of Origin: United States of America
    Manufacturer: J. M. Tooker Printing Co.
    Date: October 26, 1918
    Type: ART-Posters, Original Art Quality
  • Aeroplane Flights A Thrilling and Nerve-Straining Exhibition
    Country of Origin: United States of America
    Pilot: Curtiss La Q. Day, 1896-1972
    Sponsor: Gibson City
    Date: July 23-24, 1915
    Type: ART-Posters, Original Art Quality
  • Fly Curtiss Flying Field Mineola Long Island
    Country of Origin: United States of America
    Sponsor: Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company
    Date: 1919
    Type: ART-Posters, Original Art Quality
  • St. Petersburg-Tampa Airboat Line
    Country of Origin: United States of America
    Publisher: Independent Job Department
    Sponsor: St. Petersburg-Tampa Airboat Line, United States of America, founded 1914
    Date: 1914
    Type: ART-Posters, Original Art Quality
  • Flip-Flap
    Country of Origin: Italy
    Date: circa 1911
    Type: ART-Posters, Original Art Quality
  • No text (Airplane and auto race)
    Country of Origin: United States of America
    Publisher: American Show Print Co.
    Date: 1912
    Type: ART-Posters, Original Art Quality
  • The Flyers of the Hudson
    Country of Origin: United States of America
    Sponsor: Hudson River Day Line
    Artist: Samuel Ward Stanton, 1870-1912
    Date: circa 1912
    Type: ART-Posters, Original Art Quality