Campaigning for the Presidency, 1960-1972: Selections from the Museum of Democracy at New-York Historical Society, through November 27, 2016

“Voting: a citizen’s responsibility, a right that previous generations fought to claim, a pointless exercise, or the only way to effect change? Regardless of one’s viewpoint, every four years Americans go to the polls to choose their next leader and, by extension, a vision for the nation’s future.

Although partisan campaign rhetoric remains remarkably unchanged since the nation’s earliest campaigns, communication strategy and campaign materials have shifted dramatically as campaigns respond to new technologies and new forms of media.

American political ephemera changed in the 1960s as television and scripted media events took precedence over local grassroots campaigning. Fresh graphic design enlivened traditional campaign buttons and posters, and novelty objects grew in popularity. Yet within a decade, campaigns abandoned campaign objects as a tool to introduce candidates to voters, instead reserving them for party conventions and as keepsakes. Displayed here are objects from four presidential elections that follow the shifting aesthetics from 1960 to 1972. Together these items encompass the idealistic to the humorous to the scathingly critical, revealing what New York City mayor Ed Koch called “the sparkle and glitter of which our campaigns are made.” — Introductory Wall Text

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Exhibition entrance. Photo: Corrado Serra for Arts Summary

1-KennedyVestHat

Kennedy-Johnson Campaign Vest and Hat, 1960. The Museum of Democracy/Wright Family Collection. Courtesy New-York Historical Society.

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Installation view 1960 and 1964. Photo: Corrado Serra for Arts Summary

1 JFK_1960photo

Sven Walnum Photograph Collection. JFK Campaigning, 1960. John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. Courtesy New-York Historical Society.

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Installation view. Photo: Corrado Serra for Arts Summary

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Installation view. Photo: Corrado Serra for Arts Summary

4-LBJStetson

LBJ Stetson-Style Plastic Cowboy Hat, ca. 1964. The Museum of Democracy/Wright Family Collection. Courtesy New-York Historical Society.

3-JohnsonJuice

Ladybird Distributing Company, Granite City, Illinois. Lyndon B. Johnson Soda Can, 1964. The Museum of Democracy/Wright Family Collection. Courtesy New-York Historical Society.

2-JohnsonGrass

Lyndon B. Johnson Grass Hay, 1964. The Museum of Democracy/Wright Family Collection. Courtesy New-York Historical Society.

5-GoldwaterAfterShave

Barry Goldwater Aftershave, 1964. The Museum of Democracy/Wright Family Collection. Courtesy New-York Historical Society.

6-GoldwaterGirl

“Goldwater Girl” Sash, 1964. The Museum of Democracy/Wright Family Collection. Courtesy New-York Historical Society.

7-GoldwaterPennant

Barry Goldwater Pennant, 1964. The Museum of Democracy/Wright Family Collection. Courtesy New-York Historical Society.

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Installation view. Photo: Corrado Serra for Arts Summary

11-RockyIsMyMan

Unidentified artist. Poster, “Rocky Is My Man in ’68,” 1968. The Museum of Democracy/Wright Family Collection. Courtesy New-York Historical Society.

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Installation view 1968 and 1972. Photo: Corrado Serra for Arts Summary

5 GIRLS POSE IN DRESSES WITH PHOTOS OF PRES. CANDIDATES. L-R., HUMPHREY MCCARTHY, ROCKEFELLER, REAGAN & NIXON George Moore Collection

Five girls pose in dresses with photos of presidential candidates (left to right: Humphrey, McCarthy, Rockefeller, Reagan, and Nixon), 1968. Oregon Historical Society-George Moore Collection. Courtesy New-York Historical Society.

8-RockefellerPaperDress

James Sterling Paper Fashions Ltd., New York. Nelson Rockefeller Presidential Campaign Paper Dress, 1964. The Museum of Democracy/Wright Family Collection. Courtesy New-York Historical Society.

10-NixonPaperDress

Mars of Asheville, North Carolina. Nixon Presidential Campaign Paper Dress, 1968. The Museum of Democracy/Wright Family Collection. Courtesy New-York Historical Society.

9-SpiroAgnewJewelry

Spiro Agnew for Vice President Jewelry, 1968. The Museum of Democracy/Wright Family Collection. Courtesy New-York Historical Society.

12-NixonDancingDoll

Spiro Agnew / Nixon VIP Theater Wind-Up Dancing Doll, ca 1970. The Museum of Democracy/Wright Family Collection. Courtesy New-York Historical Society.

13-McGovernGloves

George McGovern Felt Gloves, 1972. The Museum of Democracy/Wright Family Collection. Courtesy New-York Historical Society.