SS United States Conservancy: New Digital Exhibition Explores America’s Flagship as a Symbol of the Ad Age
The SS United States Conservancy, the national nonprofit organization that owns the SS United States and is dedicated to saving the historic ocean liner, launched its first digital exhibition, “Advertising the United States: Discovering America’s Flagship through Prints, Posters, and Advertisements.”
Available now to the public at , the exhibition features a collection of more than two dozen advertisements and other promotional products, featuring both the iconic ship and major American brands, including Alcoa, Goodyear, IBM, and Socony-Mobil.
Viewed through the lens of the nation’s post-World War II economic boom and subsequent social upheavals of the 1960s, the Conservancy’s digital exhibition offers visitors a look at the intricate, exciting, and beautiful visualizations of the SS United States in print advertising at the height of the “Ad Age.”
The Conservancy’s curatorial team also explores how the depictions of the historic ocean liner, from her debut in 1952 to her withdrawal from service in 1969, have shaped our understanding, experience, and memories of this iconic American symbol as well as her namesake nation.
“The SS United States is famous for its groundbreaking design, speed, and style, but she also played a key role as a global ambassador for the nation’s ideals – and its expanding economy,” said Susan Gibbs, President of the SS United States Conservancy and granddaughter of the ship’s famed designer, William Francis Gibbs.
“In the post-war era, many marquee brands were eager to associate themselves with America’s Flagship. Advertisers understood and leveraged the ship’s deep, emotional appeal and the connection between the SS United States and the ‘American Dream.’”
Exhibition curator Sydney Sheehan said, “While she was built as a convertible troop transport vessel, America’s Flagship was truly a symbol of the country’s new, outsized role as a global superpower. She portrayed the very best of her country and advertisers understood how to capitalize on those feelings of patriotism and national pride. Even later in her career, when she became eclipsed by jet liners as the preferred form of transatlantic travel, the men and women behind the scenes found a way to recast America’s Flagship as the ‘Unrushable’ option for a more glamorous, immersive travel experience.”
Set to run through August 15, 2021, “Advertising the United States” will include special events and expanded online content.
Since acquiring title to the SS United States a decade ago, the SS United States Conservancy has raised resources to keep the ship safely afloat and advance prospects for her redevelopment as a stationary mixed-use destination. The group has also built a world-class curatorial collection, which will serve as the foundation for an exciting museum and center for innovation on board the redeveloped vessel. Today, the Conservancy has grown a global community of supporters from every state and more than 40 countries to help protect the fastest ocean liner in history and the largest built in the United States.
Those wishing to support the Conservancy’s curatorial work or help save the ship can learn more at www.SSUSC.org.