World’s Fair Visible Storage

The Queens Museum will always be inextricably linked to the 1939 and 1964 World’s Fairs, and with a collection of more than 10,000 objects pertaining to the two expositions, the Museum is a key resource to both scholars and fans. In an effort to provide visitors with a greater understanding of the scope of the Museum’s enormous holdings of 1939 and 1964 World’s Fair artifacts and memorabilia, the newly installed World’s Fair Visible Storage and Gallery on the second floor displays more than 900 three-dimensional pieces arranged by the date of each World’s Fair, and within these categories, arranged by donor. The dense installation provides an opportunity to study a large number of related works of World’s Fair objects up close, and to compare and contrast a wide range of items from 1939 and 1964. The Visible Storage provides unprecedented access to students, scholars, and the general public to explore the collection that was formerly hidden in the Museum’s art vault, off-limits to the public. Many of these objects have never been displayed in the history of the Queens Museum.

Visible Storage addresses the challenge of organizing a public exhibition space while fulfilling the traditional purpose of safely displaying and storing an important cross-section of the Museum’s collections in a climate-controlled and easily accessible environment. Light sensitive objects, such as documents, photographs and textiles, remain stored in dedicated low-light facilities.

These large glass cases now house more than 90% of the three-dimensional objects in the Museum’s World’s Fair collection. New acquisitions and private collections that, in most cases, have been donated to the Museum, will be added to the Visible Storage allowing visitors to gain new insight into the history and evolution of the World’s Fairs through a visual understanding, and a palpable sense of place by exploring these artifacts and memorabilia. Furthermore, with all the objects donated by a particular collector displayed as a group, the collections within the collection become evident.

As milestone anniversaries of both the 1939 and 1964 World’s Fairs near, Visible Storage pays homage to momentous events in the history of Flushing Meadows Corona Park and the Queens Museum. These objects simultaneously evoke the past and a yearning for tomorrow. Linking thematically with the beloved Panorama of the City of New York and its slightly more modest relative, the Relief Map of the New York City Water Supply System, the Visible Storage completes the triumvirate at the heart of the NYC Building’s rich history as a World’s Fair pavilion. The World’s Fair collection is ever-growing, those interested in donating artifacts can email or call 718.592.9700 x122.

Images: World’s Fair Visible Storage, 2013, photos by Peter Dressel