Decades: Looking Back/Moving Forward (1940 – 1959)

As we march toward MMofA’s sixtieth anniversary in October, we are pleased to present the final chapter of DECADES: Looking Back, Moving Forward. This popular and innovative series of exhibitions has immersed our visitors in the art, history, and creativity of the decades leading up to the 1960s. We scheduled this trip through time in experiential exhibitions of two decades each, and the last, DECADES: Looking Back, Moving Forward (1940 – 1959), will open May 16th for our members and donors.

We need your help to finish telling this story!

The 1940s were marked by enormous uncertainty and vast transformation across all aspects of life in the United States as the nation became involved in World War II. Cities across the country including Mobile would see influxes of people as factories switched production to military goods. As U.S. citizens adapted to war-time shortages of food, fabric, and other materials, the areas of art, fashion, and design continued to adapt and evolve. The 1950s saw the United States prospering economically and socially as a sense of optimism and exploration pervaded and the country looked to the future.

The exhibition features highlights from the Museum’s collection, as well as carefully selected works that bring important historical moments to life, which will be installed alongside period dresses from the History Museum of Mobile. Masterworks of Surrealism by leading figures in the movement, including Peter Blume, Max Ernst, Kay Sage, and Yves Tanguy have been generously lent by The Museum of Modern Art, New York as part of Art Bridges’ Collection Loan Partnership program. Photographs throughout the gallery have been provided by the Doy Leale McCall Rare Book and Manuscript Library, University of South Alabama.

Visitors shouldn’t worry if they can’t remember their Social Studies lessons from the early twentieth century because timelines, films, and biographies will trace the monumental events of the period, as well as what was happening in the art world.

This DECADES installation, as well as the two that preceded it (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.


  • $10,000 (recognized on title wall, 2 available)


  • $2,500 (recognized on section wall, 10 available – 2 per section)


  • $500 (selected by Director, recognized on label)
  • $250 (selected by Curator, recognized on label)

If you wish to donate, fill out the form at this link and mail a check to OR click the button below to donate online:

Mobile Museum of Art, Inc.
ATTN: Lianne Kenney

4850 Museum Drive
Mobile, AL 36608

Checks must be made out to Mobile Museum of Art, Inc. and must include a note designating your donation to the “Decades 1940-1939 exhibition.”

If you would like to donate by phone, please contact:

Mary Beth Lursen
Manager of External Affairs
Lianne Kenney
Operations Manager: Finance and Admin