Whether in your college dorm, plastered on the sides of buildings, or held high in protest, we encounter posters every day and they hold a unique place in the public sphere: a democratic medium used to communicate, persuade, and reflect cultural trends. Though posters are everywhere, their impact has been under-represented in discussions of design history. That is, until now. A new museum opening today in New York will dedicate itself to exploring the global history of posters and shedding light on the significance of the medium.
Large 4K screens depict posters from the museum's collection. Image: Samual Morgan Photography
Though poster museums exist in other countries and there is a vintage poster store called Poster Museum in New York, Poster House will be "the first curated poster museum in the country." The museum will host exhibitions and events surrounding the history, design, and cultural context of posters throughout history and around the world.
The children's area features a coloring mural wall with magnetic posters, interactive vintage pay phones, a newsstand, and layering stations that explain how posters are made by overprinting cyan, magenta, yellow, and black inks. Image: Samual Morgan Photography
Image: Samual Morgan Photography
Interactive screens allow visitors to experience the poster design process, going through each step and explaining the ingredients that make a poster work: symbols, colors, phrases, fonts, and design styles.
Visitors can place themselves in iconic posters at the photo booth, a green-screen type room visible from the street.
Designed by KASA, the building features a range of permanent, interactive exhibitions including a children's area with a coloring mural wall and a station that explains the printing process, a Poster Machine that "deconstructs what goes through a designer's brain" through a "choose-your-own-adventure poster design game," and a fun photo booth where you can commemorate your visit by becoming the subject in a range of iconic designs.
The inaugural temporary exhibitions will present a retrospective of Czech artist Alphonse Mucha—with a focus on his depiction of the bold New Woman of Belle E´poque Paris and how it shaped the face of advertising—and the first US museum exhibition dedicated to the work of East Berlin design collective Cyan. Founded in 1992, Cyan was a design studio born of communist ideals but faced with the realities of working as advertisers in the new capitalist society after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Among the first to embrace cutting-edge design software, Cyan pushed the limits of what a poster could be.
Forthcoming shows will explore Ghanian film posters from the 1980s and 90s, posters from the Women's March in 2017, a 100-year look at the evolving messaging of posters in China, and how nuclear energy was rebranded through the series of posters created by Erik Nitsche for the International Agency of Atomic Energy conference in 1955.