As part of the SS United States Conservancy’s ongoing 60th anniversary celebration of America’s flagship it is proud to announce the extension of its popular Forbes Galleries exhibition “The Ocean Liner United States: Celebrating the Past and Future of America’s Flagship.” The exhibit which is free and open to the public will now run through October 20, 2012. The SS United States exhibition is open 10am – 4pm Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.
Prominent additions to the exhibit include one of the original wall panels from the “Duck” Suite, one of the first-class staterooms favored by frequent United States travelers including the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Marlon Brando, Elizabeth Taylor, Marilyn Monroe, Cary Grant, and Burt Lancaster. Painted in gold leaf by American artist Constance Smith, this stunning aluminum panel is displayed in its own gallery alongside enlargements of period color photography showing life aboard the liner, reproduced from the archive of collector Charles W. Howland.
“This ship is an irreplaceable national icon and symbol of our great nation,” states Robert L. Forbes, Vice President of Forbes and President of ForbesLife, who serves as a member of the Conservancy Board of Directors and helped make the exhibition possible. “This exhibit, special events and all the Conservancy’s work to save this ship give us an opportunity to celebrate, save and restore a national treasure and marvel of American innovation.”
On Tuesday, October 9, 2012 at 6pm, the Conservancy will host a panel discussion “Designing the SS United States” at the gallery, led by historian Pat Kirkham. The event will explore the unique contributions of women artists and designers to the famous vessel.
China, furniture, artwork and documents from the ship’s top-secret design are among more than 120 artifacts assembled including souvenirs from the maiden voyage. Items for the exhibition lent by collectors from across the country transport visitors back to an era of travel in grand style, where world leaders and celebrities roamed America’s flagship as she sped across the Atlantic. Through personal stories of crew members, tourists, and immigrants, the exhibition shines a spotlight on life aboard the ship in the 1950s and 1960s and conveys the SS United States’ special role as national symbol and cultural touchstone.
Built to be both luxury superliner and Cold War weapon, America’s flagship, the SS United States was the fastest and safest ocean liner ever built. Larger than the Titanic and faster than the Queen Mary, she was one of the greatest achievements of American engineering of the 20th Century. In July 1952, the ship smashed the transatlantic speed record on her historic maiden voyage– a record that remains unbroken.
The extension of the exhibition comes on the heels of the launch of the Conservancy’s new Save the United States campaign (www.SavetheUnitedStates.org) featuring an online museum and virtual SS United States experience that enables supporters of America’s flagship to save and personalize their own pieces of the historic vessel. Proceeds from the campaign will be used to restore the vessel’s exterior and establish a museum on board.
“The extension of this special exhibit will help us showcase this legendary liner and lay the groundwork for the extraordinary shipboard museum and the Conservancy’s future Center for American Design and Discovery,” states Susan Gibbs, Executive Director of the Conservancy and granddaughter of the ship’s designer, William Francis Gibbs. “The new Save the United States Campaign will help us bring these exciting plans to fruition.”
The Conservancy’s Redevelopment Project is also advancing plans to repurpose the SS United States, withdrawn from seagoing service in 1969, into a self-sustaining, multipurpose waterfront destination.
The Forbes Galleries, New York are located at 62 Fifth Avenue (at 12th Street) in Manhattan.