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Juniata Art Museum Displays Poster Art from World Wars

(Posted April 10, 2006)

Posters such as this image, encouraging women to volunteer on the home front in World War I, are on display at the Juniata College Museum of Art April 21-Sept. 9.

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- In an age of instant imagery, where television viewers and Internet users can see horrific acts of war almost as they happen, the Juniata College Museum of Art will examine how the U.S. government organized support for its war efforts in both world wars in the exhibit "Designing for Victory 1914-1945: Posters from the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center," which is on display from April 21 through Sept. 9.

There will be an opening reception at 5 p.m., Friday, April 21 at the museum. Refreshments will be served. The reception is free and open to the public.

The exhibit shows more than 20 vintage posters from World War I and World War II. These artworks, commonly known as "propaganda posters," played a crucial role in garnering common support for the war effort. The posters commonly carried concise messages urging citizens to enlist in the armed services, conserve resources, support political causes, or rally around a common goal.

The exhibit not only features posters from the United States, but also displays posters from allies such as Great Britain, France, Russia, and Canada, as well as Germany, which fought on the opposite side in both wars. The exhibit also traces how the design of the posters changed over time, shifting from the highly colorful and painterly style of the early 20th century to a more photographic movie-poster look in the 1940s.

Such artists as Norman Rockwell, Charles Fouqueray and Howard Chandler Christy created posters designed to engage the home front in the war effort. The images in the posters depict national icons such as Uncle Sam and often used religious imagery such as crucifixes. Women also are used as symbols of virtue, victims, vital workers or protectors of home. Opposing forces were often depicted as raving brutes or rabid imperialists.

The show, which is on loan from the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center at the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, Pa., reveals how these posters reflected the culture of the eras in which they were produced, while playing an educational role in encouraging patriotism and cooperation for a single cause.

The Juniata College Museum of Art is located in historic Carnegie Hall at 17th and Moore streets in Huntingdon. Museum hours until May 1 are Monday through Friday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; and Saturday from noon to 4 p.m. Museum hours starting May 1 are Wednesday through Friday, noon to 4 p.m. For more information, please call the museum at (814) 641-3505, or visit the Juniata College Web site at http://www.juniata.edu/museum.

Contact John Wall at wallj@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3132 for more information.