Art Deco City: New York Postcards from the Leonard A. Lauder Collection

Opens September 27, 2024

A postcard with the Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building, and other iconic NYC buildings

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During the 1920s and 30s, the bold new look of Art Deco heralded New York’s arrival as a cosmopolitan metropolis: a center of architecture, design, fashion, and culture stealing the spotlight from the great European capitals. At the same time, the picture postcard, a form of modern communication, transmitted vibrant images and messages around the globe. Art Deco City: New York Postcards from the Leonard A. Lauder Collection illuminates the key role postcards played in transforming New York into an international capital during the interwar years. Featuring over 250 postcards as well as decorative arts, fashion, photography, drawings, and architectural models, Art Deco City will immerse visitors in the dazzling style which defined the modern city. 

The exhibition highlights the impact that colorful, mass-produced postcards had in establishing Art Deco landmarks like the Chrysler Building, Empire State Building, and Rockefeller Center as international icons that epitomize the stylishness of Midtown Manhattan. In varied and creative ways, postcards echoed the sleek appeal of these soaring structures, which belied the realities of the Great Depression. Pairing these sought-after souvenirs with an array of images, historic artifacts, film footage, and hands-on interactive experiences, the exhibition uncovers the Art Deco elements that shaped New York's image in the popular imagination. More than an aesthetic, Art Deco was the look that sold the city to the world.   

Unless otherwise indicated, the postcards in this exhibition are on loan from the Leonard A. Lauder Postcard Archive, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Generous funding for the exhibition has been provided by Leonard A. Lauder. 

Additional major support provided by Ronay and Richard Menschel and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the New York City Council.

"Greetings from New York," 1940s, published in New York City by Manhattan Post Card Publishing Co., Inc., Collection of Leonard A. Lauder. Promised Gift to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
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