Monday, January 5, 2004

Lunchbox Heaven

Molded orange plastic Dukes of Hazard and Flash Gordon lunch boxes (complete with rocket-styled thermos)... blue Transformers and Star Wars lunch boxes... these are as much a part of childhood as Sunday morning cartoons and cooties. And while it may be years yet before the Smurfs are recognized for their invaluable contribution to television history, their contribution to lunchtime elementary gastronomy is not forgotten.

Behold: The Lunchbox as a work of art!

The Atlanta Museum of Design (formerly the Atlanta International Museum of Art and Design) will host an exhibition of 75 rare metal lunch boxes beginning January 8th and continuing through February 14th. An opening reception will be held from 6pm to 8pm on the evening of Thursday, January 8, 2004.

The exhibition, Lunch Box Memories, is a nostalgic new Smithsonian Institution traveling exhibition that illustrates the transformation of the lunch box from a practical, functional object to a prized possession.
The collection is comprised of illustrated metal lunch boxes – dating from the 1880’s to the 1980’s, and including one of the last metal lunch boxes manufactured in 1984 – from the Smithsonian National Museum of American History and other rare examples on loan from Allen Woodall, a private collector from Columbus, Georgia. According to the Museum's website, "the design of these everyday objects celebrates America’s fads and fantasies, heroes and heroines, reflecting trends in 20th century popular culture."

The exhibition features a wide variety of designs, from recycled tobacco tins and lard pails to classic boxes illustrating figures such as Batman and Robin, the Harlem Globetrotters, Annie Oakley, Howdy Doody, Roy Rogers, Popeye, Garfield, a VW bus, the Bionic Woman, Superman, H.R. Pufnstuf, Sesame Street, the Lone Ranger, Rocky and Bullwinkle, and Indiana Jones.

The lunch boxes featured in the exhibition include some of the most rare and most significant boxes available to collectors today. Among the most prized in the collection are: the Mickey Mouse Oval (1935), the first character lunch box; Hopalong Cassidy (1950), the first box based on a well known TV hero; and The Beatles (1965), the first metal lunch box to use pop music performers, embossed 3-D portraits, and individual signatures.

Lunch Box Memories was developed and organized by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, Behring Center, and the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES).

Look for your Cloudjammer friends at the exhibition. We'll be the ones with the Harry Potter lunch boxes clutched to our chests. fb

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