The retired SS United States ocean liner is being showcased in a free digital exhibition, which explores the “connections between the historic ocean liner, the evolution of consumer advertising, and American ideals and identity.”
This was announced by the SS United States Conservancy, the group behind the ocean liner, in a press statement.
The exhibition is called Advertising the United States: Discovering America’s Flagship through Prints, Posters, and Advertisements. It is divided into three distinct parts: “Advertising the United States,” “The United States as Stage” and “Sailing in the Age of the Jet.”
The first part discusses the role advertising played in the post-war tourism boom and how advertisements of the SS United States presented the public with a “‘monument’ of American ingenuity and innovation.”
“The United States as Stage” thinks through the ways in which the ship was used as a “set” for commercial advertisement, how products became attached “not only with the name of the ship but with her superlative qualities as well.”
The third part of the exhibition, according to the SS United States Conservancy, considers the “use of mid-century modern style and iconography, as well as the ship’s partial rebranding as ‘the most luxurious way to Europe,’ in order to reinvigorate the public’s interest in the SS United States while competing with the rise of commercial airlines.”
Each section features a selection of images that interrogates these themes, the conservancy said.
The SS United States – built in 1950-1951 – ran regular service in 1952-1969 and has had various plans and owners since then, including a sailing deal with Crystal Cruises that fell through in 2016.
Since her maiden voyage in 1952, the ship has been an icon of American culture and a global ambassador for her namesake nation.
The SS United States Conservancy said that its curatorial team, within the exhibition, developed a “one-of-a-kind experience that offers visitors a look at the intricate, exciting, and oftentimes beautiful visualizations of the SS United States in advertising.”
“The digital exhibition also explores how these advertisements shape our understanding, experience, and memory of the SS United States by taking us aboard the ‘American Dream’,” it added.
An online gift shop, which features limited-edition mugs, t-shirts, posters and other unique items featuring images from the exhibition is also available on the webpage.