The Sign of the Times: American Political Posters Exhibit at Hayes Museum Closes January 19

Dustin McLochlin, Hayes Presidential Library & Museums historian, hangs campaign posters in the Hayes Museum for the special exhibit “Sign of the Times” on Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2021.

The Hayes Presidential Library and Museums, America’s first presidential library, is hosting a new exhibit featuring presidential campaign posters created in the last 170 years, many of which have been rarely seen in recent times.

“Sign of the Times: The Great American Political Poster 1844–2012,” explores a variety of styles, design trends and printing technologies. This special exhibit is on loan from Exhibits USA and opened on Thursday, December 16, and runs through January 19.

“This exhibit fits right into our area of history. At the presidential museum we deal a lot with politics and presidency, both in which this exhibit covers” said Kevin Moore, Hayes Presidential Library & Museums’ curator of artifacts. “People visiting the exhibit get to see what type of campaign posters were popular at the time.” 

About The Toured Exhibit

The exhibit was curated by Hal Wert, Ph.D., collector and professor of history at Kansas City Art Institute and organized by Exhibits USA, a national program of the Mid-America Arts Alliance (M-AAA). The M-AAA is committed to enriching the cultural life of historically underserved communities through high quality, meaningful, and accessible arts and culture programs. Each year M-AAA’s programs, on average, reach one million people throughout the region.

ExhibitsUSA sends more than 25 exhibitions on tour to more than 100 small-and mid-sized communities each year. These exhibitions create access to an array of arts and humanities experiences, nurture the understanding of diverse cultures and art forms, and encourage cultural life in local communities.

The Art of The Political Poster

The American political poster has attempted to catch our eye and capture our vote through the use of visual language for over 100 years. Through time, these posters have been often neglected as an art form, despite their effectiveness in conveying a political message to millions of voters through skillful visuals. The “Sign of the Times” exhibit makes every effort to bring eye-popping political graphics to the forefront and show American political posters as art.

“There’s two ways you can look at [“The Sign of Times”]. First you can look at it as a historical exhibit that contains campaign posters from 1844 to 2012. Viewers get to see various campaigns and candidates. Some of them who became president, and some of them who lost. They get to learn about American election history” said Moore. “You can look at this as an art exhibit as well. You can see how the people creating these posters used color and design to convey certain messaging about their candidates.”

If you are interested in this exhibit, access is included with admission during regular museum hours until Wednesday, January 19, 2022. Admission rates and advance tickets are available at the museum website. Walk-ins are also encouraged.