Decades: Looking Back/Moving Forward, 1920 – 1939


Looking Back/Moving Forward

1920 – 1939
December 15, 2023 – April 27, 2024

As we look forward to celebrating MMofA’s sixtieth anniversary in October 2024, we are launching an innovative series of exhibitions that will immerse our members and visitors in the art, history, and innovations of the decades leading up to the sixties. This trip through time is scheduled in experiential exhibitions of two decades each, and the second, 1920 – 1939, will open on December 15th.

The 1920s and 30s were a time of explosive change. The population of the United States increased significantly, and urban cities grew. The methods and means of transportation changed, and cars zoomed along the streets. Manufacturing helped make everyday items — like washing machines, vacuum cleaners, refrigerators, and cars — affordable for households. Women’s role in society, as well as fashion, changed dramatically, and cultural and artistic movements flourished. It was a time of boom and bust.

Visitors shouldn’t worry if they can’t remember their history lessons from the early twentieth century because we will have timelines on our walls tracing monumental events and what was happening in the art world at the same time.

The exhibition features artists such as Lamar Baker, Saul Berman, Fred Emanuel Shane, and Grant Wood along with historic dresses and accessories from the History Museum of Mobile’s collection. Historic photographs throughout the gallery have been generously provided by the Historic Mobile Preservation Society (HMPS) and the Doy Leale McCall Rare Book and Manuscript Library, University of South Alabama.

This Decades installation, as well as the exhibitions that precede and follow this iteration (all leading up to the extravaganza of the 60th anniversary!), will recreate what it was like to be alive then, not only experiencing political and historical events but navigating the personal lives of work, home, family, and leisure as well.

Support for this exhibition is provided by:

The J.L. Bedsole Foundation
City of Mobile
Alabama State Council on the Arts
National Endowment for the Arts