Exhibitions - Behind the Curtain: Collecting the New York Fairs

Behind the Curtain: Collecting the New York Fairs

07.27.14 – 01.31.16

A black and white photograph of a white male, magician. He is standing on a platform and dressed in a tailcoat. In one hand he has a magic stick pointing towards his other hand, holding a top hat. In the background is Queens and the pavilions for the New York Fairs.

Behind the Curtain: Collecting the New York Fairs reveals little known artifacts and souvenirs drawn from national and regional private collections, as well as the museum’s own. Loans from the 1939-40 fair include a Kan-O-Seat signed by Billy Rose, George Burns & Gracie Allen, Rudy Valle, Abbott & Costello, J. Edgar Hoover and others, the guest book from the British Pavilion with the signatures of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth of England, and a member’s badge from the Society of American Magicians (who also performed at the 1964 fair). From 1964-65, a newly restored Cushman 3-wheeled Scooter joins a baby brontosaurus from the family that resided in GM’s Futurama, Mold-a-rama machines that produced plastic vacuum-formed Unispheres and the only known Picturephone from the Bell System Pavilion. Recent acquisitions from the museum’s collection include two marvelous photo albums from the 1939 fair, a Boy Scout jacket and ephemera preserved from a boy’s week working at the 1964 Boy Scouts of America pavilion, and original blueprints of the proposed Willets Point Boulevard subway station addition and the proposed World’s Fair district map, 1936.


Behind the Curtain: Collecting the New York Fairs has been organized by Louise Weinberg, Registrar, Archives Manager and Curator.

Participating Artists

— Andy Warhol

— Helen Hamill

— Bob Gallagher

— Reino Aarino

— Leo Glueckselig

— Carl Rose

— Albin Johnson

— Joseph Kiselewski

— Albert Fisher

— Larry Syverson

— Anthony A. Lanza

— Irving Desfor

— Alexander A. Pehmoller

— Whitney Darrow

— Jr. Renzo Blazé

— Norman Bel Geddes

— Tony Sarg

— Bil Baird