Posters weren’t always just the wall coverings you used in your dorm room — they actually have a long and impactful history, which will be on view at the city’s new Poster House museum opening on June 20.
As the first museum in the U.S. that will be dedicated to the global history of posters, Poster House will not only have an archive of contemporary works but also rotating exhibits and programming, starting with two shows — "Alphonse Mucha: Art Nouveau/Nouvelle Femme" and "Designing Through The Wall: Cyan in the 1990s."
You’re likely familiar with Mucha’s work — he popularized the Art Nouveau style in Paris and his beautiful prints of female figures have continually been available as posters. According to the museum’s officials, there hasn’t been a show dedicated to his work in the city since 1921 at the Brooklyn Museum.
Cyan, a design collaboration from East Berlin, created poster campaigns on small budgets during the 1990s and did so through Photoshop.
Poster House has already planned its programming through 2020.
- Oct. 17 — Jan. 5, 2020
Ghanaian film posters: Images from American films were printed on flour sacks in Ghana during the 1980s and 90s because they would travel around the country with the films in mobile cinemas.
Women’s March: A retrospective of the posters used during the 2017 Women’s March with an aim to explore how messages and politics have changed in just three years.
- Jan. 16 — May 3, 2020
100 Years of Chinese Posters: This exhibit will show how messaging trumped artistic style over time in China.
General Dynamics: A look at a series of posters Erik Nitsche created for the International Agency of Atomic Energy in order to rebrand nuclear energy as a means of peace and advancement.
- May 19 — Aug. 16, 2020
Turkish Delight: In the 1970s, Turkey saw the birth of sex-comedy films. This exhibit will explore that cultural phenomenon through the films’ campy posters.
Hunter S. Thompson: The gonzo journalist led a poster campaign in 1970 for his bid to become sheriff of Aspen, Colorado, covering topics like climate and environmental protection, voter participation and nuclear disarmament.
- Sept. 4 — Dec. 13, 2020
Julius Klinger: The Austrian artist is all about bold and organized street advertising. This exhibit will display his works from the Wolfsonian–Florida International University museum.
In addition to its changing exhibits, there will be a photo booth, where you can jump into a classic vintage poster like Rosie the Riveter, a colorful world created by Japanese designer Tadanori Yokoo or "decapitate yourself like famed magician Harry Kellar," the museum’s release states.
There will also be a design game, where you can design your own poster by changing the color scheme, font, iconography and text.
The museum at 119 W. 23rd St. is meant to show the historical value of posters and how they continue to play a role in daily life, especially in New York City, according to Julia Knight, the museum’s director.
"Posters have had a huge impact on society and culture," she said. "Their history tells the story of the times in which they were made, and of the evolution of design and persuasion in public spaces — something we in New York experience every day. New York is the perfect place for Poster House not only because of the city’s history with design and advertising, but because that history is still being written here. We experience it in full force."