Sunday, November 10, 2013

World's Fair artifacts at Queens Museum

From the NY Times:

ON April 22, 1963, John F. Kennedy, sitting in the Oval Office, pressed the numbers 1964 on an early touch-tone telephone. It was an exciting, if stage-managed, moment.

At the other end of the line, the directors of the New York World’s Fair were gathered in their offices in what is now called Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. At the press of the presidential buttons, a large “countdown clock” began ticking off the days remaining until the opening of the 1964 New York World’s Fair one year hence.

The telephone now sits on a shelf at the newly renovated Queens Museum, pulled out of storage along with about 900 other artifacts from the 1939 and 1964 fairs. They serve as a reminder that the building itself is a kind of artifact, built to house the New York City Pavilion at the 1939 fair. They also remind us that the great fairs generated an extraordinary amount of junk.

Yes, the world’s fairs communicated lofty ideals and grand plans. The 1939 fair promised a sneak preview of “the world of tomorrow,” expressed visually in its emblem, the spirelike Trylon and spherical Perisphere. The 1964 fair took as its motto “peace through understanding.” But the fairs were carnivals, too, vast cornucopias of trinkets, promotional ephemera and mass-produced gewgaws emblazoned with fair advertising.

And so the eye beholds, in the glass display cases devoted to the 1939 fair: a tin Planter’s peanut dish, with the monocled Mr. Peanut posing jauntily in front of the Trylon and Perisphere; tiny green pickle lapel pins from the Heinz pavilion; an orange-and-blue Trylon and Perisphere salt and pepper shaker set; a Trylon and Perisphere pencil sharpener; Trylon and Perisphere bracelets in lustrous Bakelite; a 1939 New York State license plate stamped with the words “New York World’s Fair.” Also, many coins, penknives, dishes, bookmarks and thermometers.


Anonymous said...

Lots of "made in Hong Kong" souvenir crap that never sold and stored in the unispheres pump room and museum's bunker but at least its an effort.
The real gems and memorabilia were colored globes, panels, Saturn lamps, luminary's , Corvette strollers, phone booths, mold'a'rama machines that made the Dino's. I also remember these small battery powered lantern lapel pins and bicycle license plates. Sadly almost all are in the Staten Island landfill or in private hands.
I offered the museum some NYS Pavilion blue glass globes (not plastic "Wiz" reproduction globes) and colored Kawall sandwich panel and cocktail stirrers from Robert Moses bar. (a acquired for safe keeping history). They were not allowed to hear any more of it under Helen Marshalls direct orders. After that and Estelle Cooper pocketing big money from NYSP fundraisers at Terrace on The Park F- them all ! I don't trust any of them !!

Anonymous said...

Looks like the sane artifacts that were fir sale at the "old museum's"
gift shop. I purchased some of them over the years from there.

Anonymous said...

The new Queens Museum is fantastic. It's nice to see what's hopefully the beginning of the restoration of all the buildings at Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

Anonymous said...

Belgian waffles. Futurama. GE, Ford, IBM pavilions. Awesome.

Anonymous said...

This the best they could do? Tourist junk dredged from their gift shop?

There are tons of interesting images and exhibits from the world's fairs.

Anonymous said...

By all means, preserve those collectable Worlds Fair plates, cups and saucers, etc. but leave the NYS Pavilion in it's current crappy condition.

How do you spell H-Y-P-O-C-R-I-S-Y?

More kitschy junk to collect dust on some navel gazing nerd's shelf.

Anonymous said...

Typical Queens project.

A capital project of $70 million and an exhibit comprising of $700 spent on Ebay ....

I could see Woodhaven or Queens Historical doing an exhibit like this but the QUEENS MUSEUM?!?!

How do you expect this boro to be taken seriously folks?

Anonymous said...

The new Queens Museum is fantastic. It's nice to see what's hopefully the beginning of the restoration of all the buildings at Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

a. don't get out much do you?

b. candidate for a Queens community board.

Anonymous said...

Visit the Brooklyn Museum, bub, and see what a crappy hall full of 3rd rate art and castoffs that the Queens Museum really is.

Finkelpearl has got himself a cushy job there. THAT'S what it's all about!

Anonymous said...

He's a gem alright.

Tom Finkelpearl said...

Hi -- I get it that you are not thrilled with the Queens Museum. I also understand that our collection does not match the Brooklyn Museum where my wife is a curator. They had around a 75 year head start. But that World's Fair gallery really has been popular since our opening. Again, I would be happy to give anyone a tour of the new building. Is anyone game? My email is