Path to The Presidency, George Washington to Donald Trump

On View June 3 - December 31, 2017

The exhibition Path to The Presidency, George Washington to Donald Trump, opens June 3, 2017 at The Bridgehampton Museum, Corwith House.

Having witnessed the most shocking election of a lifetime, the 2016 Presidential campaign arguably proved to be most shocking and unexpected campaign, ever in America. However, mudslinging and provocative slogans were always a part of the political landscape. This exhibition examines the history and power of visual advertising in key political campaigns of American leaders from George Washington to Donald Trump.

Featuring unique campaign textiles such as, ceramics, flags, posters, parade lanterns, torches, games, stickers (to merely scratch the surface) provide tangible insight into how and why our leaders became our leaders. The exhibition underlines the historically powerful role of mass-market campaign advertising in American elections.

The Museum of Democracy, Wright Family Collection, diverse in nature reminds us that time may skew the opinions of candidates or elections, but the items don’t deceive. They are uncompromising and unchangeable. They expose candidates’ eccentricities, insecurities, cash flow, dark secrets, troublesome platforms, and anything else you care to seek out. The exhibition showcases items from key Presidential era's Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt, John Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, George Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.

The exhibition demonstrates how candidates have paved the road to the U.S. presidency in their own personal odd liaisons and smoking room bargains, and how each victor has staggered into the White House on the tattered wings and battered wheels of slogans, pamphlets, and hats bearing his or her name. The exhibit is on view beginning June 2, at The Bridgehampton Museum, Corwith House 2368 Montauk Highway.

Shaking Hands and Kissing Babies: The Road to the White House

By Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art

On display through January 9, 2017, from the Museum of Democracy, The Wright Family Collection. The exhibition examines the history and power of visual advertising in political campaigns of American leaders from George Washington to Barack Obama. Featuring more than 40 campaign items such as buttons, flags, posters, and novelty items, the exhibition underlines the powerful role of mass-market campaign advertising in American elections. This diverse collection of objects reminds us that election messaging, mudslinging, and catchy slogans are as American as apple pie.  Sponsored by Randy and Valorie Lawson/Lawco Energy Group.



by New-York Historical Society July 12, 2016

On View August 26 - November 27, 2016

Coinciding with the 2016 presidential election, the New-York Historical Society will explore campaign memorabilia and the ephemera of American politics through the shifting styles, rhetoric, and aesthetics of four presidential elections and other political contests in the 1960s and early 1970s. On view August 26 – November 27, 2016, Campaigning for the Presidency, 1960-1972: Selections from the Museum of Democracy will showcase more than 120 objects from the planned Museum of Democracy/Wright Family Collection, considered one of the nation’s largest and most comprehensive collections of political campaign memorabilia.

“With this year’s presidential election reaching a crescendo, we aim to remind New Yorkers what elections looked like before 24/7 news coverage and social media,” said Dr. Louise Mirrer, President and CEO of the New-York Historical Society. “As New York Mayor Ed Koch said, campaign memorabilia is ‘the sparkle and glitter of which our campaigns are made’ and that certainly comes through in this exhibition, which illustrates the integral role that ephemera had in American politics. We are pleased to share the Wright Family Collection with our visitors and give a taste of what’s to come in the planned Museum of Democracy.”

Curated by New-York Historical Society Research Associate Cristian Panaite, the exhibition will feature objects from the presidential campaigns of John F. Kennedy vs. Richard Nixon (1960); Lyndon B. Johnson vs. Barry Goldwater (1964); the three-way contest between Richard Nixon, Hubert Humphrey, and George Wallace (1968); and Richard Nixon vs. George McGovern (1972), tracing changes in tone and style of the 1960s and early 1970s and reflecting contemporary developments in campaign strategy. Highlights will include bold posters, paper dresses, dolls and board games, t-shirts, paper and vinyl stickers, lapel pins, buttons, and other ephemera that range in tone from idealistic, to humorous, to scathingly critical. The exhibition will also feature some iconic television commercials from this era when the medium transformed politics, such as the controversial “Peace Little Girl (Daisy)” from 1964, which Johnson’s campaign created to demonstrate the danger of putting Goldwater in charge of the nuclear button. Memorabilia created for other prominent primary candidates of this era, such as Robert F. Kennedy and Nelson Rockefeller, will also be on view.


Exhibition Overview

Focusing on four major presidential campaigns, the exhibition will begin with the 1960 John F. Kennedy vs. Richard Nixon contest, when Kennedy famously beat a sweaty and nervous-looking Nixon in the first live televised debate. Among the objects on view from this campaign will be a vest and hat featuring the slogan “Kennedy is the Remedy,” worn by an usher at the Democratic convention, and an elephant-shaped bobble-head doll wearing a “Nixon for President” sash.


The 1964 Lyndon B. Johnson vs. Barry Goldwater campaign proved to be a gold mine for memorabilia. Goldwater’s campaign team seized on “gold” as a theme of many campaign products, producing quirky items such as Gold Water aftershave, “An After Shave for Americans.” Not only was it a play on the candidate’s name, but connecting Goldwater to cleanliness might have been a conservative reaction to “dirty hippies.” Lyndon B. Johnson’s campaign made an effort to promote his all-American, Western rancher image through a hay bale that reads “Johnson Grass Hay From One Good Democrat to Another.”


The 1968 election was a three-way contest between Richard Nixon, Hubert Humphrey, and George Wallace, a chaotic situation due in part to the shocking assassination of Robert F. Kennedy, the presumptive Democratic nominee. As fashions changed in the late 1960s, paper dresses proved a cost effective way to present the candidate in a bold, colorful Pop Art light. Worn at election rallies for Nixon and Humphrey, several of these dresses will be on view, including one with Nixon’s name in a patriotic star-spangled print and others with colorful patterns of candidates’ faces. Nixon’s running mate, Vice President Spiro Agnew, also inspired wearable memorabilia during the 1968 campaign, such as a jewelry set of earrings and a brooch that bears his name and cartoon likeness.


Richard Nixon ran for re-election in 1972, beating George McGovern by 18 million votes. Supported heavily by the Committee to Re-Elect the President, Nixon’s campaign benefited from a surplus of materials, in particular one hundred different types of dazzling buttons, bumper stickers, and balloons that praised the President. McGovern’s campaign created quirkier items, including a pair of gloves that read “Give George McGovern a Helping Hand.”


Programs and Special Initiatives

Throughout the fall, New-York Historical will host a variety of engaging talks from distinguished speakers exploring the impact presidential campaigns have had on various aspects of American life. On September 20, Yuval Levin, the editor of National Affairs, will discuss how 21st century America has become a discontented nation, wrought with “culture wars.” Founder of Eurasia Group Ian Bremmer will look at the 2016 election and America’s role on the global stage on October 24 while preeminent legal scholars discuss the American media’s unmatched ability to capitalize on public sentiment on October 29, highlighting Americans’ fierce opinions and emotions regarding the democratic system and political elections. General (Ret.) David H. Petraeus, in conversation with foreign policy analyst Max Boot, will reflect on the outcome of the historic 2016 presidential elections, outlining the crucial challenges the new administration will face in handling foreign policy and the global economy on November 21.

On October 7, as part of its Justice in Film series on pay-as-you-wish Friday nights, New-York Historical will screen the 1964 campaign film The Best Man with opening remarks given by constitutional scholar Philip C. Bobbitt. An interactive workshop for educators will be held on October 19, in which participants will view the objects on display in Campaigning for the Presidency, 1960-1972 and engage in hands-on strategies that can be brought into the social studies or visual arts classroom.

From September 22 – November 30, Roosevelt House at Hunter College will present See How They Ran: FDR & His Opponents — Campaign Treasures from the New-York Historical Society Collection. Franklin D. Roosevelt stood for office in five national campaigns—one for vice-president and four for president—mastering vote-getting technologies that seem primitive by 21st-century standards, but represented the most modern campaign style yet in American history. This exhibit, featuring loans from the New-York Historical Society collection, will present posters, broadsides, buttons, and leaflets that Roosevelt supporters—and opponents—placed on building walls, lapels, and automobile bumpers from 1924 through 1944.  A special section of the show will be devoted to FDR and the radio—his ultimate use of new campaign technologies—featuring audio of FDR’s actual speeches and messages.  The show will also explore how FDR broke the two-term barrier with extraordinary messaging, easing the president’s way to a third, and fourth run for the presidency. The exhibition will include public programs featuring authors, campaign analysts, campaign pollsters, and White House and Roosevelt scholars.

About the Museum of Democracy

The Wright Family collection is the foundation for the Museum of Democracy. One of the nation’s largest and most comprehensive collections of historical and political campaign memorabilia, it consists of over a million-plus objects, amassed over four decades. Unsurpassed in quality and quantity, it covers all the major presidential campaigns―including every president from Washington to Obama. The collection also features material from major social causes and movements pertaining to freedom and democracy, reflecting the history of politics and political reform in America as well as central civil rights issues such as women’s rights and social justice.

About the New-York Historical Society

The New-York Historical Society, one of America’s preeminent cultural institutions, is dedicated to fostering research and presenting history and art exhibitions and public programs that reveal the dynamism of history and its influence on the world of today. Founded in 1804, New-York Historical has a mission to explore the richly layered history of New York City and State and the country, and to serve as a national forum for the discussion of issues surrounding the making and meaning of history.

George W. Bush Presidential Center Announces Path to the Presidency Exhibit

by George W. Bush Presidential Center February 18, 2016


Selections from The Wright Family Collection of American Presidential Memorabilia/Museum of Democracy are Featured

DALLAS, TX (February 18, 2016) — The George W. Bush Presidential Center yesterday announced a new special exhibit, Path to the Presidency, which gives visitors an interactive look at the history of presidential campaigns, including key races that have defined America, the changing face of the American electorate, and a fun-glimpse at life on the campaign trail. Selected objects on loan from The Wright Family Collection of American Presidential Memorabilia/Museum of Democracy are featured.


The Path to the Presidency exhibition includes artifacts and elements representing many presidential campaigns in U.S. history. Highlights include campaign medals and buttons dating back to the 1800s and a “living room” theater, airing iconic campaign advertisements and debate moments in a 1960s-style set-up. A number of important pieces of The Wright Family Collection of American political memorabilia are featured. The Wright Family Collection is the subject of the book Campaigning for President - Political Memorabilia from the Nation's Finest Private Collection by Jordan M. Wright.


The exhibit is generously sponsored by Al and Connie Herbert, and is made possible by contributions from The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History; theDeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University; the Harlan Crow Library; the Hervey A. Priddy private collection; Dr. Allen Frey; The Wright Family Collection:Museum of Democracy; William J. Clinton Presidential Library; Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum; and the LBJ Presidential Library.


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