Running from Feb. 28, 2016, through June 12, 2016, at the Museum of Design Atlanta, "Make-Believe America" highlights U.S. cultural exhibitions from the 1950s to the 1970s created by renowned designers such as Herbert Bayer, Charles and Ray Eames, George Nelson, and R. Buckminster Fuller.
Much of the work was completed at the height of the Cold War, when the U.S. government commissioned leading designers to create international, cultural exhibitions to push an agenda intent on demonstrating the superiority of American life while diminishing communism's influence worldwide. The selected pieces also explore the role designers played in giving substance to the political and cultural ideas of U.S. policy makers of the era and to show how American self-representation at cultural exhibitions evolved from during the second half of the 20th century.
The show emphasizes American exhibitions abroad, such as the formation of an official system of exhibiting the country's commercial items and political ideas at trade fairs and other expos, including the World's Fairs. Other displays include official exchanges with the former U.S.S.R, as well as documents from past World's Fair pavilions and museum exhibitions that denote a return to the display of founding American values.
Photographs, graphics, original film footage, and other artifacts bring a tangible element to the exhibition. The pieces explore the intentions of the policy makers who proposed the exhibitions and how they were prepared for international audiences.
"Make-Believe America" is curated by Andrew J. Wulf., executive director of the New Mexico History Museum and the Palace of the Governors, in Santa Fe, N.M.