WWII & NYC
October 05, 2012 - May 27, 2013
- “Documents Pertaining to the Japanese Surrender September 2, 1945.” September 21, 2012 through November 9, 2012. (Manila: Bureau of Printing, for the United States Army, September 1945). Broadsheets, five leaves with twelve mounted photographic facsimiles of documents and translations of the documents. On September 2, 1945, the war in the Pacific officially ended. In an internationally broadcast ceremony lasting twenty-three minutes aboard the U.S. battleship Missouri anchored in Tokyo Bay, representatives from the Emperor of Japan as well as the nine Allied nations signed the Instrument of Surrender. While the United States and Japan each retained one of two original copies of the document, the State Department immediately directed Douglas MacArthur to print facsimile versions for the nine signatories from the U.S., China, the United Kingdom, the U.S.S.R., Australia, Canada, France, the Netherlands, and New Zealand. The general requested eleven more copies for members of his staff, including his chief engineer, Brooklyn-born Major General Hugh J. Casey, to whom this document belonged.
- Visualizing Liberty and Democracy: The Four Freedoms, November 13, 2012 through December 10, 2012. Almost a year before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor that propelled the United States into World War II, President Franklin D. Roosevelt addressed Congress in a State of the Union speech. The president spoke of threatened international security and articulated the hope for a new world order founded upon four essential human freedoms: the freedom of speech and expression; the freedom of worship; the freedom from want; and the freedom from fear. The Four Freedoms, as they immediately came to be known, provided a facile explanation to Americans about their country’s ultimate participation in the war. Yet by 1942, only one-third of the public was familiar with what they were. Unable to serve his country in other ways, the artist Norman Rockwell became driven to illustrate Roosevelt’s vision. The Manhattan-born, Vermont transplant specialized in commercially popular, sentimental scenes of small-town life, and his four paintings of each “freedom” were no exception. Rockwell’s series succeeded in making the American public visualize Roosevelt’s lofty rhetoric, and helped them to understand what the world was fighting for. Today, The Four Freedoms endure as four of Norman Rockwell’s most iconic works, and also offer a lesson in World War II ideology and propaganda.
- War for Civil Rights describes a “Double V” campaign waged by African Americans during WWII, which argued that the black men and women who fought for victory abroad deserved full civil rights and victory over racism at home. The exhibit, comprised of photographs, posters, and two new short films, focuses on three aspects of the Double V campaign in New York City: the Negro Freedom Rallies; the fight against Red Cross blood segregation; and the effort to integrate the Stuyvesant Town housing development.
- GI Sketch Diary: Ben Brown’s World War II Drawings features the artwork of Bronx-raised Ben Brown, a corporal who fought in North Africa and in the bitter and bloody Italian campaign. Brown carried sketchbooks with him throughout his time on the front. The sketches seen in this exhibit—a fraction of the art Brown produced during the war—illustrate his experiences and the people and places he encountered.
- A display in the Luce Center highlights the role of the New-York Historical Society during WWII. The exhibit includes information and objects from staff members who went to war; ephemera and photographs from wartime exhibitions; acquisitions collected during and after the war; and insight into the changes made throughout the museum to adapt to the war.