Posters are everywhere. We see them on our commutes, hang them in our bedrooms, encounter them at our offices, community bulletin boards, and movie theaters. Enter Poster House, the first American museum focusing on the history of international poster design. Coming to the Flatiron neighborhood of New York City, Poster House will open June 20.
This museum will host a wide range of rotating exhibitions, a permanent collection of poster art, and interactive spaces where you can be the subject or the designer of your own poster.
Poster House will explore this unique art form, equal parts commercial and creative, from a variety of diverse perspectives. Although a temporary form of advertisement, it can nonetheless influence our lives, whether providing information or persuading us to buy something, as well as innovate changes in graphic design technique. Corporations, government agencies, community organizations, musicians, and filmmakers disseminate their messages through this mass-produced medium.
The museum will begin its first year with two exciting exhibitions: Alphonse Mucha: Art Nouveau / Nouvelle Femme and Designing Through The Wall: Cyan in the 1990s. The museum’s permanent features include an immersive photo booth, digital poster wall, a design game, and a kids exhibition.
Poster House will feature an exhibition of the work of Art Nouveau artist Alphonse Mucha.
Czech poster artist Alphonse Mucha, the subject of the main gallery exhibition at Poster House, numbers among the most successful artists of this particular medium. His striking designs helped define Art Nouveau aesthetics and are still widely recognizable to this day (even though few know Mucha by name). Portraying women like the actress Sarah Bernhardt, Mucha crafted intricate tableaus around his subjects filled with flowers, mosaic designs, and fantastic natural imagery.
The “Jewel Box” portion of Poster House will exhibit the work of Cyan, a design collective in East Germany. Cyan formed just after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and pursued commercial success as the former Communist regime crumbled around them. Their designs for artists, performers, and other cultural endeavors employed the new software of Adobe Photoshop in the early 1990s. Cyan used Photoshop to craft dreamy photomontages, pioneering techniques that would later become standard in commercial poster design.
In curating exhibition topics for Poster House, the organizers have kept diversity at the forefront. Poster art created by women and members of non-Western cultures will be showcased in upcoming exhibitions such as Ghanaian Film Posters and poster selections from the 2017 Women’s March (both running Oct. 17, 2019 to Jan. 5, 2020). Other planned exhibitions draw from global cultures like China, Turkey, and Austria.
A permanent feature of the museum, the Poster House Photo Booth places you inside a wide range of famous posters. The booth will digitally insert you into posters from all over the world, whether you’d like to fly in a Tadanori Yokoo poster or recruit someone for the U.S. Army like Uncle Sam. This photo booth will be available for use behind the 23rd Street window at the front of the museum.
You can also engage in poster design firsthand with the digital Design Game, another permanent installation. Flip colors, fonts, text, and other design elements of existing posters to discover why designers make certain choices to maximize visual impact.
Kids can also design their own posters at the permanent Kids Exhibition. Children will enter the Mad Men era of popular graphic advertisements and draw their posters with whiteboard markers and magnets. Other kid-friendly elements will include a mini newsstand and phone booths filled with more interactive features so they can explore the world of posters.
Poster House will open June 20. Poster House is located at 119 W. 23rd St. Visit posterhouse.org for more information.