ALL ABOARD, FULL-SPEED AHEAD!
This afternoon, a new display of rare materials was launched in the public foyer of the Wolfsonian library. The exhibit, Class Distinctions: Selections from the Laurence Miller Collection, came together after years of behind-the-scenes preparation. In September 2008, our already impressive holdings of steamship materials from the interwar era were augmented by a substantial donation of complementary materials from the postwar period. At that time, Dr. Laurence Miller, a life-long connoisseur and collector of ocean liner ephemera, donated his personal cache of cruise line promotional materials to the institution.
His gift included hundreds of rare and reference books and periodicals, and tens of thousands of brochures, menus, deck plans, and other materials printed by the industry. Soon after making the gift, Dr. Miller also came out of retirement to lend his expertise and to help us process, organize, catalog, and digitize the collection so as to make it accessible to scholars and to the general public.
Over the last couple of months, Dr. Miller made an initial selection of materials and began writing some interpretative and descriptive text labels for the exhibit opening today. He chose a number of brochures, deck plans, and menus printed by Cunard’s White Star Line and the Compagnie Générale Transatlantique (or French Line) and decided to focus on the very different accommodations passengers would have experienced in the 1950s depending on whether they travelled first class or in the tourist, cabin, or third classes.
Years of work have now culminated in the first of what I am sure will be many exhibits that make use of the Laurence Miller Collection. Thanks to the teamwork of the library staff and volunteer cataloguers, the digital library specialist, the curatorial department, and exhibition installers, our museum visitors will have the opportunity to see a small sampling of the enormous collection of ocean liner materials to be found in the Wolfsonian museum. Rather than duplicate some of the items selected for that show, today’s blog features some materials produced by many of the other steamship line companies represented in the larger collection.