Window Dressing
December 3, 2009 4:59 PM   Subscribe

Holidays on Display, currently on view at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History, offers an image-rich online exhibit as well, detailing the way businesses learned to capitalize on one of the country's largest celebrations. Peer into the artistry of holiday window design as well.

I was especially happy to learn via this exhibit about the artist, puppeteer, illustrator, and balloon designer Tony Sarg, who designed some of the most wonderful early balloons for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade - very 20s and 30s in style, sort of the Fleischer Studios of balloons. He also created a wacky sea serpent stunt on Nantucket.
posted by Miko (6 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I was just at that exhibit, and it included a truly amazing book of float designs, every single one of which featured a woman in a white dress sitting on a throne. The generic utility company floats alone made me retroactively pissed at Kiwanis and the Shriners for their lame-ass floats in parades of my youth. All those had was an arch and some chairs, when apparently I could have enjoyed a 20 foot long lightning bolt or a gaudy monument to the wonders of natural gas or maybe an enormous and surprisingly vaginal cornucopia. Sigh.
posted by Copronymus at 6:08 PM on December 3, 2009

What synchronicity! This week I had to make a powerpoint presentation for class on window styling and used NY windows for all of my examples. Fascinating stuff here Miko, thank you for posting!

Aside: I live in Western Australia so it's a summer xmas for us here. I feel like making you Northern Hemisphere dwellers a post of our hilariously half-hearted tinsel efforts here.
posted by honey-barbara at 6:20 PM on December 3, 2009 [2 favorites]

Recently, Larry Bird, the show’s curator, guided visitors through the gallery ... Larry Bird? Oh, you're no Larry Bird. This is Larry Bird.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:34 PM on December 3, 2009

I had the same mental doubletake at the name Larry Bird.
posted by Miko at 9:32 PM on December 3, 2009

I feel like making you Northern Hemisphere dwellers a post of our hilariously half-hearted tinsel efforts here.
That's actually been something I know I have and I'm sure many others have always wondered about. Despite never having any snow for Christmas, it's still deeply ingrained as part of the holiday for me.
posted by rubah at 9:35 PM on December 3, 2009

Exhibits like this always make me nostalgic for the elaborate, over the top holiday window and store displays and delightfully cheesy light shows at the old John Wanamaker department store in downtown Philadelphia (home of the bronze eagle statue). Sadly, Wanamaker's as a business is no more, but the building is now a Macy's Department Store, and Macy's has continued with the holiday shows. This store also has the largest operational pipe organ in the world, the Wanamaker Organ. More on the Wanamaker organ. Info. on the holiday light show (scroll down past the info. on the current show for lots of history). Old TV segment on the organ. Youtube video 1980's Wanamaker holiday light show. More Youtube - 1996 Wanamaker light show, Part 1, Part 2.
posted by gudrun at 10:07 PM on December 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

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