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Covering the Twentieth Century: Time and Life Magazines

November 15, 2016
May 14, 2017

For a century, the covers of Time and Life magazines have captured, in a single image, the zeitgeist of American culture, politics, and technology. Time Inc. was a serial innovator, spawning new publications, new ways of “being informed,” and new feature series, such as Time’s “Man of the Year.” Time’s founders aimed to create an informed citizenry for a new era of middle-class professionals. Their new approach to information, language, and marketing would shape the taste of mainstream America. A selection of Time and Life covers reveal how both magazines documented the major events of the 20th century.

Showcasing 18 covers published between 1926 and 2014, this installation flanking the walls of our West Gallery takes visitors on a journey through the past, recalling moments as confronting as an H-bomb mushroom cloud hovering over the Pacific in 1954 and as nostalgic as a young Bill Gates holding an early floppy disk in 1984.

In 2015, the reference archives of Time Inc. arrived at the New-York Historical Society. Thanks to a generous grant from the Henry R. Luce Foundation, the archive will open in segments for researchers beginning in 2017.

Exhibitions at New-York Historical are made possible by Dr. Agnes Hsu-Tang and Oscar Tang, the Saunders Trust for American History, the Evelyn & Seymour Neuman Fund, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature. WNET is the media sponsor.


Creative: Tronvig Group