About This Exhibition

Art Deco is a wildly popular architecture and design movement from the 1920s and 1930s—the Roaring Twenties and Great Depression. The Wichita Art Museum will present an exhibition of 140+ iconic artworks—decorative arts, paintings, sculptures, and more—that epitomize this historical moment in American experience. This touring exhibition, co-organized by the Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha, Nebraska, and The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri, will open at WAM on Saturday, February 12, 2022.

American Art Deco: Designing for the People investigates this dynamic period when the county went through sharp economic, political, social as well as artistic transformation. From stylish decorative art objects to industrial design products, from compelling photographs to modern paintings, the range of artworks in this exhibition reflect the glamour of the 1920s and the devastation and escapism of the 1930s.

Art Deco, short for arts décoratifs, took its name from the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes, held in Paris in 1925. The international exposition celebrated a new style characterized by geometric ornament, symmetry, stylization, and angularity, which developed globally with different variants. In the United States, it combined modern style with an embrace of materials used in industry and new technologies, influencing the design of everything from skyscrapers and automobiles to clothing and radios.

“This exhibition breaks new ground in the field of 20th-century decorative arts and design in its exploration of societal shifts following World War I and the flu pandemic of 1918,” said Julián Zugazagoitia, Menefee D. and Mary Louise Blackwell CEO and Director of the Nelson-Atkins. “More Americans had access to new designs, but there were also economic and social realities that prevented everyone from enjoying new fashions in household goods. The exhibition investigates the aspirations, dreams, and challenges of the 1920s and 1930s.”

The Wichita Art Museum also has lent five works from its collection to American Art Deco, including Arthur Dove’s painting Forms Against the Sun, Carl Wuermer’s painting American Farmer, and the Georgia O’Keeffe-designed and Max Erlacher-engraved Jimson Weed Plate.

American Art Deco is organized by Joslyn Art Museum, Omaha, NE, and The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, MO. The exhibition is curated by Dr. Catherine Futter, formerly Director of Curatorial Affairs at the Nelson-Atkins and now Interim Director of Curatorial Affairs and Senior Curator of Decorative Arts at Brooklyn Museum.

The Major lender to the exhibition is Kirkland Museum of Fine and Decorative Art in Denver, Colorado. Key loans from Kirkland Museum join loans from Fisk University Galleries and John Hope and Aurelia E. Franklin Library at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee; Kansas City Museum in Missouri; The National Museum of Toys and Miniatures in Kansas City, Missouri; Sheldon Museum of Art, University of Nebraska-Lincoln; Wichita Art Museum; and several private collections along with objects from the collections of the Nelson-Atkins and Joslyn for this special exhibition.

Special Exhibition Admission to American Art Deco: Designing for the People, 1918–1939
(includes general museum admission)
Tuesday–Friday and Sunday
Seniors (age 60 and older)—$10
College/university students w/ID and youth (ages 5 to 17)—$3
Youth under 5—Free

Adults and seniors—$5
College/university students w/ID and youth—Free

Admission tickets to American Art Deco may be purchased at the museum’s Welcome Desk. Due to anticipated popularity of the exhibition, phone or online ticket orders will not be available.

Admission to this traveling exhibition is FREE to WAM Members.

Sleek silver car ornament installed on a black and silver base

Raymond Loewy, Hupmobile Hood Ornament, 1936–38. Hupp Motor Company, manufacturer, Detroit, Michigan, 1908–1941. Chromium-plated metal, 6 3/8 x 6 1/8 x 6 1/4 inches. Marshall V. Miller Collection

The Wichita presentation has been generously underwritten by presenting sponsor Lattner Family Foundation. Judy Slawson Exhibition Fund and DeVore Foundation are lead sponsors.

Emprise Bank, Charles E. Baker, David and Rynthia Mitchell, and Jan and Steve Randle provided additional major underwriting.

J. Eric Engstrom and Robert Bell and Sarah T. Smith are principal sponsors.

Generous support has been provided by The Trust Company of Kansas, Dr. John and Nancy Brammer, Donna J. Bunk, Carol and H. Guy Glidden, Sondra Langel, and Mary Sue Smith.

Charles E. Baker and Jim V. Phillips Exhibition Fund, Sue and Fred Berry, Dr. Alan and Sharon Fearey, Toni and Bud Gates, Patricia Gorham and Jeff Kennedy, Harold and Evelyn Gregg, Sonia Greteman and Chris Brunner, Anita Jones and Richard Hite†, Delmar and Mary Klocke, Errol and Suzanne Luginbill, Dr. Glen and Marianne Misko, Dr. Barry and Jane Murphy, Kristin and Will Price, Bob and Nancy Schwan, and Sue and Kurt Watson are additional exhibition patrons. (†deceased)

2022 exhibitions and public programs are generously supported by the Downing Foundation.

All museum exhibitions receive generous sponsorship from the Friends of the Wichita Art Museum and the City of Wichita.

Fabulous Art Deco Finds in the Museum Store

Clutch purse in a black and white geometric pattern with a silver chain


Art deco inspired pocket handkerchiefs


Bookcover for
Tote bag with a black and white geometric, art deco inspired pattern


Book Cover for Art Deco Fashion, Make Your Own Art Masterpiece. An adult coloring book
Art Deco-inspired necklace in black and white


Three men's ties, rolled, side-by-side. Far left is black and white geometic pattern. Center is brightly colored reds blues, and blacks in a striped pattern, right is red and gold in an art-deco-inspired fish scale pattern


Necklace and earrings featuring a red beaded tassel design on silver findings


Book cover for 50 Art Deco Works of Art You Should Know
Cufflinks in solver with an enamel front with a black and white, art deco-inspired geometric pattern


Scarf with an art-deco inspired print featuring a woman holding a rose to her face in black, red, and white.


Cover of the book Art Deco by Norbert Wolf. Gold circular/spiral patterns on a black background around an image of a woman in white, arms abover her head holding a dark jar with a emereld green rim. She is standing on a gold platform of three steps.
Earrings with crystals in an X-shape over descending black stones


Rectangular scarf in a blue and white geometic pattern