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 4 of 4)

  • PRESIDENT DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER
    Country of Origin: United States of America
    Sponsor: Civil Air Patrol
    Sitter: Dwight D. Eisenhower
    Date: ca 1955
    Type: ART-Posters, Original Art Quality
  • J. EDGAR HOOVER
    Country of Origin: United States of America
    Sponsor: Civil Air Patrol
    Sitter: J. Edgar Hoover
    Date: ca 1954
    Type: ART-Posters, Original Art Quality
  • Free Air Show
    Country of Origin: United States of America
    Pilot: Beverly "Bevo" Howard, 1914-1971
    Sponsor: Civil Air Patrol
    Date: November 4, 1951
    Type: ART-Posters, Original Art Quality
  • Civil Air Patrol On the Air Force Team
    Country of Origin: United States of America
    Sponsor: Civil Air Patrol
    Artist: Robert T. McCall
    Sponsor: United States Air Force
    Manufacturer: United States Government Printing Office
    Date: 1955
    Type: ART-Posters, Original Art Quality