Designing Tomorrow: America’s World’s Fairs of the 1930s
October 2, 2010 - September 5, 2011
Photograph by Kauffman & Fabry, Co.; Collection of Jim Sweeny.
Between 1933 and 1940 tens of millions of Americans visited world's fairs in cities across the nation. Designing Tomorrow explores the modernist spectacles of architecture and design they witnessed -- visions of a brighter future during the worst economic crisis the United States had known. The fairs popularized modern design for the American public and promoted the idea of science and consumerism as salvation from the Great Depression.
Participating architects, eager for new projects at a time when few new buildings were being financed, populated the fairgrounds with an eclectic modern architecture. Pavilions housed innovative and dynamic exhibitions that paid tribute to factory production, technology, and speed. Exhibits forecasted the houses and cities of tomorrow and presented streamlined trains, modern furnishings, television, and talking robots.
Courtesy Albert Kahn Family of Companies.
A first-of-its-kind exhibition, Designing Tomorrow features nearly 200 never-before-assembled artifacts including building models, architectural remnants, drawings, paintings, prints, furniture, an original RCA TRK-12 television, Elektro the Moto-Man robot, and period film footage. The artifacts are drawn from the featured expositions: Chicago, IL—A Century of Progress International Exposition (1933–34); San Diego, CA—California Pacific International Exposition (1935-36); Dallas, TX—Texas Centennial Exposition (1936); Cleveland, OH—Great Lakes Exposition (1936-37); San Francisco, CA—Golden Gate International Exposition (1939-40); and New York, NY—New York World's Fair (1939-40).
Visit the Designing Tomorrow curators' blog.
Take a docent led tour of the exhibition Designing Tomorrow: America's World's Fairs of the 1930s.
This exhibition was made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Because democracy demands wisdom.
Additional funding was provided by the National Endowment for the Arts
Official Media Partner:
For more information about Designing Tomorrow sponsorship opportunities, download the exhibition prospectus or contact Michael Dunagan, Director of Institutional Giving, at 202.272.2448,ext. 3551 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Laura Burd Schiavo and Deborah Sorensen, Curators
Matthew Bokovoy, Christina Cogdell, Neil Harris, Lisa Schrenk, Kristina Wilson, and Richard Guy Wilson
Design and Installation Team:
Kristin Adolfson, Shelagh Cole, Rosemary DeRosa, Evan Howell, Allan Sprecher, Patrick Burke, Rowan Corbett, David Hayward, James Matthews, Rick McSorley, Anirut Panchatha, Mark Papagno, and Brad Rudich.