Poster art was a powerful medium during World War I, whether depicting the Germans as evil Huns or exhorting the folks at home to buy war bonds.
A new exhibit that opened Tuesday at the National World War I Museum and Memorial features 29 examples, out of a collection of about 1,600, that have not been publicly displayed before.
Some are blatantly propagandistic. Others tug on emotion and patriotism.
“You forefathers died for Liberty in 1776 — what will you do for it in 1917?” asks one U.S. poster. “Buy Liberty Bonds!”
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Another shows two children with the message, “Our daddy is fighting on the Front for you! Back him up! Buy a United States government bond of the 2nd Liberty Loan of 1917.”
The centennial exhibit includes posters from allies Britain, France and Italy, as well as one for a German war loan.
“German posters are hard to get,” said senior curator Doran Cart. “They didn’t make as many, and they lost a lot after the end of the war with the turmoil. ... Posters are pretty fragile.”
The Liberty Memorial has been collecting the color lithographs since 1920. During the war, they would have been plastered on walls. Most in the museum collection are in pristine condition.
The “Posters as Munitions” exhibit in Memory Hall will continue through Feb. 18 next year. It will complement another one opening April 7 in Exhibit Hall about the U.S. experience in the war. America declared war against Germany and the Central Powers on April 6, 1917.