‘Over The Top’: Iconic World War I Posters at C.W. Post’s Hillwood Art Museum
Rita Langdon,Associate Provost and Director of Public Relations
C.W. Post Campus,
Long Island University
Brookville, N.Y. - Stirring images of Joan of Arc, Lady Liberty and fearless American soldiers will be on display in “Over the Top: American Posters from World War I,” an exhibition opening Monday, September 13 at Hillwood Art Museum on the C.W. Post Campus of Long Island University.
First exhibited at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C. and then at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Mass., this timely exhibition explores the role of images in rallying Americans to the cause and shaping public perceptions of the war.
During World War I, posters roused Americans to support their troops, fund international aid projects, and buy bonds to finance the war effort. Imbued with iconic United States symbols like the Statue of Liberty, Uncle Sam and the American flag, posters were installed in libraries, post offices and schools in urban and rural communities as prominent reminders of the need for support. Leading illustrators of the day including J.C. Leyendecker, James Montgomery Flagg, Howard Chandler Christy and Jessie Willcox Smith contributed their talents to create posters and billboards that had a powerful impact. Their illustrated imagery spurred the sale of more than $20 billion in government bonds—two-thirds of the total cost of American participation in the war.
“The posters in ‘Over the Top’ demonstrate the power of visual images in our world,” said Stephanie Haboush Plunkett, chief curator at the Norman Rockwell Museum. “In its heyday, illustration was a primary means of mass communication, serving to shape and reflect American society and culture.”
A reception for the opening of “Over the Top: American Posters from World War I” will be held Thursday, Sept. 16, from 6 to 8 p.m. Guests will view the posters and learn about their historical context with commentary by exhibition lender Thomas Leffingwell Pulling.
The exhibit will run through Saturday, Nov. 13.
“Over the Top: American Posters from World War I” features selected posters from the collection of Thomas and Edward Pulling, grandson and great-grandson of R.C. Leffingwell, assistant secretary of the treasury during World War I and head of the War Loan Organization. Leffingwell was charged by President Woodrow Wilson and Secretary of the Treasury William G. McAdoo to devise a strategy for underwriting the war effort. He received this collection of posters in gratitude for his role in the success of the war loan campaigns. Thomas Pulling is a trustee of Long Island University.
Hillwood Art Museum wishes to honor all veterans by keeping the Museum open on Veterans Day, Thursday, Nov. 11 and inviting all members of our community to join us for special events.
Admission to Hillwood Art Museum is free and open to the public. Museum hours are Monday to Friday 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (8 p.m. on Thursday) and Saturday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Hillwood Art Museum is located on the C.W. Post Campus of Long Island University, 720 Northern Blvd. (Route 25A), Brookville. The Museum has ample free parking and is handicap accessible. For more information, call (516) 299-4073 or visit www.liu.edu/cwpost/museum.
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