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Exhibition May 25 − September 5, 2019

Posters of the London Underground

In 1919, 39 posters entered the Art Institute of Chicago, courtesy of the London Underground Electric Railway. Posters filled with vibrant colors and innovative designs were part of an effort to encourage Londoners to use this commercial transport system: to visit the cultural sights of the city, go shopping, attend sports events and even go out into the countryside. Installed outside metro stations on public streets and on buses that drove through the city, these posters created living civic art.

Over the next 20 years, the museum received more posters that appeared irregularly and ultimately made up a collection of almost 350 works of art - an unusual example of the golden age of this wonderful advertising campaign, which continues to this day. However, the story of how and why these posters appeared in Chicago is still unknown.

This Exhibition, the first in the museum to demonstrate this unique collection, begins with a chronological selection of posters. Thematic sections focus on popular themes such as the zoo, museums and Hampton Court, the royal palace to the south-west of London on the Thames, and thematic exhibits are dedicated to the three greatest artists who worked in the underground: Charles Payne, Frederick Herrick and Edward Cowuffer.