New Marshall Museum display shows poster art

By  | 

LEXINGTON, Va. (WDBJ) -- As Rob Havers, the Marshall Foundation President explains: When America went to war in 1941, “General Marshall realized very early on in World War II that total war on the battlefield would require total commitment on the home front.”

But, 50 years before the internet, how do you get everyone pulling together?

“Posters were a very important way to communicate messages to the general public at large,” says Jeffrey Kozak, Director of the Library and Archives at Marshall.

“These posters are engaging," Havers says. "They are upbeat, and they are really doing their part as well to keep morale up on the home front.”

And it wasn’t just the government. At the Marshall Museum’s new display, “What We’re Made Of,” you see Spam was introduced by Hormel, and Coca Cola built dozens of bottling plants in the rear area as soldiers advanced. And everyone made posters.

“While the posters from the World War II era were produced in mass quantities," Kozak says, "They weren’t ever intended to be preserved for the long term.”

Which means, you don’t often see them in the pristine condition of the posters on display at Marshall. It’s very unusual to see posters that are in this high and good a quality from 70 years ago.

But this is just the tip of the Marshall Foundation collection.

In a vault, in the back, carefully stored behind lock and key, Kozak opens a large cabent drawer. “This is where we have our poster collection,” he explains.

Posters from the First World War – not quite in as good a shape as the later ones. And boxes and folders of of hundreds of other artifacts.

“Yeah, it’s fantastic," Kozak says. "You never know what folder you pull out, what you’re going to look at next.”

And it’s still coming in.

“On a pretty regular basis, we’re still receiving material, which is surprising," according to Kozak, "As World War II gets further and further away and the veterans are decreasing in numbers.”

All of which gives them a deep resource to draw from for rotating exhibits like this one.