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Library exhibits travel posters from the 20th century
Press Release 7/14/99

An exhibition entitled "Nostalgic and Unforgettable Travel Posters From the 20th Century" is on display in the galleries of The Newark Public Library, 5 Washington Street, through September 4. The colorful and professionally designed posters include one hundred visual lures to encourage people to travel to foreign lands. This was an art form that combined lettering, notably calligraphy, original art work, and overall design concepts by leading commercial artists of past decades when travel posters were of prime importance to owners of ocean liners, European hotels and restaurants, and national historic buildings and sites.

The materials in this large show, some of which are unique items, were selected from the library’s Special Collections and curated by William J. Dane, keeper of posters, prints and printed ephemera. Most of the historic posters are from European nations, but this show also includes selections from Africa, Australia and Asia.

European countries such as France, Italy, Switzerland, Great Britain, and Spain after the end of the Franco regime regularly expended huge sums to advertise travel. Commercial artists with international status for excellence were commissioned to design highly appealing posters to attract millions of visitors from near and faraway lands. Travel was a multimillion-dollar industry throughout the world. The work of several top designers is exhibited, including E. McKnight Kauffer from England, Cassandre from France, and artists from the group known as the Vienna Secessionists.

In addition to posters, there are groupings of related items: postcard albums, advertisements from travel magazines of the 1920s and 1930s, and a score of somewhat rare and essential reference books on the art of poster design.

Many of the postcards illustrate views of major German cities before 1914, Jerusalem and pressed flowers from the Holy Land, views of Bermuda at the turn of the century, and evocative vintage illustrations of Coney Island in 1905. Most unusual is a 52-page booklet published in 1912 with color illustrations of "Cuba and the Cuba Railroads" and detailed timetables for the island.

"The great era of travel by sea and land stretched from 1890 to 1940," explains William J. Dane. "Posters of special distinction were a major part of the allure and mystique of journeys to foreign lands. Those on display in the library’s galleries," adds Dane, "recapture some of the delights of journeys across the globe not too long ago."

The "Travel Poster" exhibition may be viewed without charge during regular summer hours at the main library: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 9am to 5:30pm; Wednesday from 9am to 8:30pm; and Saturday from 9:30am to 1:30pm. For additional information, please call William J. Dane at (973) 733-7745, or access the library’s Web page (www.npl.org) and click-on "Programs & Exhibits."

 

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