ASA 2011 Conference paper ©Clarissa J. Ceglio Page
backgrounds with skepticism if not outright prejudice. Makeshift solutions held appeal, as thesemight prevent outsiders, particularly the poor and nonwhite, from settling down for the longterm. Thus, at the start of the war, housing emerged as a critical defense, economic and socialproblem.And, that problem was sizeable. Scholars estimatethat more than 15 million civilianscrossed county lines, including, by some accounts, 8 to 12 million whose move brought them toa new state.
The over 16 millionindividuals who entered the service were on the move as well.The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), which by 1942 had already mounted nearly adozen exhibitions related to the fast-expanding war, participated in efforts to educate andinfluence decision-makers at the national and local levels about the need to quickly implementwell-planned emergency housing. MoMA, merely a decade old in 1939 when Germany invadedPoland, had, despite its youth, national reachand a reputation as a vanguard institution. Duringthe 1940s, the necessity of developing alternate revenue streams and the political connections of Nelson A. Rockefeller led the museum to, in its own words, work for “the war government inmany ways both officially and unofficially by preparing, showing, and circulating exhibitionsand films and in an administrative or advisory capacity.”
In fact, by the end of combat, MoMAwould produce some 30 exhibitions related to the war, a great many of which, including
, debuted in New York and then circulatedin traveling versions.Described asan “exhibition in 10 scenes,”
presents an interesting casestudy not only for the ways in which it recast earlier messages of social reform into the rhetoricof patriotic duty but also for its explicit manipulations of space, texture, light, text and sound inconjunction with news media images and social documentary photography produced by the FarmSecurity Administration/Office of War Information (FSA/OWI). I argue that in order to fusevisitors’ impulses for social reform with patriotic duty MoMA conceived of a persuasive
Data on population movement during the war can be found inJohn W. Jeffries,
Wartime America: The World War II Home Front
(Chicago: I.R. Dee, 1996), 69. See alsoMichael C. C.Adams,
The Best War Ever: America and World War II
(Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998), 119.
“The Museum and the War,”
The Bulletin of the Museum of Modern Art
X, no, 1 (1942): 4.