Last week, Museum Studies Professor Laura Shiavo treated me and a group of Museum Studies alumni to a guided tour through the National Building Museum’s new exhibit Designing Tomorrow: America’s World’s Fairs of the 1930s.
Schiavo, the curator of the exhibit, provided us a fascinating, behind-the-scenes look at the exhibit’s creation. She and her colleagues did archival research on the fairs’ host cities—Chicago, IL (1933–34); San Diego, CA (1935-36); Dallas, TX (1936); Cleveland, OH (1936-37); San Francisco, CA (1939-40); and New York, NY (1939-40)—and even searched on eBay to find some of the original programs and brochures from the world’s fairs.
The result is a stunning display full of photos and artifacts depicting how the World’s Fairs popularized modern design and promoted science and consumerism in America as a relief from the Great Depression. It features seven thematic galleries: Welcome to the Fairs, A Fair-going Nation, Building a Better Tomorrow, Better Ways to Move, Better Ways to Live, Better Times, and Legacies.
If you’re in the D.C. area, I encourage you to take in this captivating exhibit, which will be on display through July 2011.