Of the more than 1,300 posters in the National Air and Space Museum's collection, Dom Pisano, curator in the Aeronautics Division, prefers one from 1952: a brightly colored poster depicting TWA's Super Lockheed Constellation (at left). "It shows the typical airliner of the post war era. Later on, airlines generally get away from using aircraft in their posters. Basically what you see are portrayals of the destination. They're selling the romance of the destination rather than the aircraft."
Pisano, six interns and two volunteers recently digitized 713 of the iconic posters and made them available on the museum's Web site as part of a Smithsonian-wide initiative to make the institution's vast unseen collections more accessible to the public. The posters had slowly accumulated over the years, but eventually, their care fell into the hands of Pisano, who, relishes the job for all of the discovery it brings.
The posters range from recruiting advertisements for the United States Air Force to a Russian poster from 1875 advertising attractions at the Russia Zoological Gardens in St. Petersburg, that depicts a gas balloon. Intern Amelia Kile wrote about the process on the museum's AirSpace blog over the weekend: "The collection provides a wealth of information related to balloons, early flight, military and commercial aviation, and space flight, documenting aerospace history and technology while providing a window into popular culture."
The ultimate goal is to make the entire collection available online, but the second batch of images will likely take longer, Pisano says. The copyright information for rest of the 1,300 posters has to be identified. That, Pisano says, is the next step.
Look through the collection and let us know which one is your favorite in the comments area below.