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American Art Deco: Designing for the People, 1918-1939
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American Art Deco: Designing for the People, 1918-1939

Learn More about The Creativity StudioDuring the years between World War I and II, 1918–1939, Americans embraced a freer, more open society. The works of art, design, and architecture in what is known as the Art Deco style express a widespread confidence in the American dream. Technological advances and innovations in production and materials enabled buildings to increase in height and more people to travel, enjoy expanded leisure time, and furnish their homes with new objects. Yet it was also a complicated time, with racial tensions and economic depression further disenfranchising many Americans.

Traveling nationally before its presentation in Kansas City, this exhibition reconsiders this complex era in our nation’s history through a dazzling collection of Art Deco objects. It also celebrates the contributions of those who faced social inequities and explores the lasting impacts that this period had on American society.


A sneak peak:

Installation of an early 20th century automobile in the American Art Deco exhibition.

Organized by The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and Joslyn Art Museum, Omaha, Nebraska. In Kansas City, generous support provided by Linda Woodsmall DeBruce and Paul DeBruce; Shirley Bush Helzberg; Dick Belger and Evelyn Craft Belger; Nancy and Rick Green; Marion and Henry Bloch Family Foundation; Richard J. Stern Foundation for the Arts – Commerce Bank, Trustee; Atterbury Family Foundation; The Barton P. and Mary D. Cohen Charitable Trust; Hallmark Cards, Inc.; JE Dunn Construction; National Endowment for the Arts; TIVOL; and the Campbell/Calvin Fund for Exhibition Support.    

Hero Image: Casimir Brau, designer French, active 1890–1930 Rosengart Cars, manufacturer France, 1923–1955 Leaping Horse Mascot, c. 1925 bronze with nickel plating 4 1/8 x 2 3/8 x 8 1/4 in. Marshall V. Miller Collection
Body Images:
Left: Paul T. Frankl, designer (American, born Austria, 1887–1958); Warren Telechron Company, manufacturer (Ashland, Massachusetts, 1926–1992). Modernique Clock, 1928. Chromiun-plated and enameled metal, molded Bakelite, brush- burnished silver, 7 3/4 x 6 x 3 1/2 in. Collection Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art, Denver, Gift of Michael Merson, 2010.0670. Image courtesy of Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art, Denver. Photo: Wes Magyar. Middle: Paul Schreckengost, designer (American, 1908–1983); Gem Clay Forming Co., manufacturer (Sebring, Ohio, 1907–1960s). Punch Bowl, Ladle, and Cups, 1938– 39. Ceramic, bowl: 4 1/2 x 12 x 12 in.; ladle: 1 1/4 x 12 x 3 in.; cup: 2 3/4 x 5 x 3 3/4 in. Collection Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art, Denver, CG0718; CG0719–CG0722; 2004.3040. Image courtesy of Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art, Denver. Photo: Wes Magyar. Right: American, Evening Gown, 1933.



Design. Build. Make Connections. 

The Creativity Studio is an interactive space for visitors of all ages. Taking inspiration from American Art Deco: Designing for the People, 1918-1939, The Creativity Studio is a place to experiment with Art Deco patterns and design a city.  

Mix and match building blocks to design an Art Deco Kansas City of your wildest imagination, play with symbols that decorate buildings and communicate what people do in this city, and reflect on the design decisions that affect your life every day. 

The Creativity Studio is at the end of American Art Deco: Designing for the People, 1918-1939. One ticket will get you access to both. 

Organized by The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.


Print Workshop

  • Series of eight classes, Mondays, 1:30-3:30 p.m.
    October 3-November 21, 2022
  • $400 | $320 Members 
  • Adults (16+) 

Take a deep dive into the Nelson-Atkins collection from Japanese wood block prints to relief designs from India, and motifs from the featured exhibition American Art Deco: Designing for the People, 1918-1939. Then explore a variety of printmaking techniques like dry point, monoprinting, block printing, and screenprinting. Participants will have the opportunity to exhibit artwork in a culminating exhibition in the museum’s Ford Learning Center. This class is designed for adults 55+ and all levels are welcome. Supplies provided.


Watercolor Inspired by Art Deco 

  • Saturday, October 22 | 10:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. (with hour break for lunch)
  • $100 | $80 Members 
  • Adults (16+) 

Spend time in the featured exhibition American Art Deco: Designing for the People, 1918-1939 to gather inspiration for a value-focused watercolor work. Class time includes a one-hour break for lunch. Supplies are included in class fee, but lunch is not provided.


Art Deco Designs Youth Class

  • Saturdays, November 5 & 12 | 10:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. 
  • $100 | $80 Members 
  • Ages: 9-12

Visit the featured exhibition American Art Deco: Designing for the People, 1918-1939 to inspire designs in a variety of media. From printmaking to painting and drawing, Art Deco shapes and patterns bring art to life!




From Paris to Kansas City: Art Deco Design 1918 to 1939 

November 10, 2022 | 6–7 p.m.
Atkins Auditorium
$10 members | $12 non-members 

Art Deco, with its geometric forms and streamlined ornamentation, emerged in France after World War I and quickly manifested in the United States in all areas of life from the fine arts, to the objects we use and buildings we live and work in.

Join us for the lecture From Paris to Kansas City: Art Deco Design 1918–1939, presented by Dr. Catherine Futter, Director of Curatorial Affairs and Senior Curator of Decorative Arts, Brooklyn Museum, to explore this time of great change and innovation.






August 14, 2022 3:00PM


Women’s Suffrage & Beyond


Atkins Auditorium | 3-4:30 p.m.
$8 for members | $10 for nonmembers

Suffragettes marched their way into the Art Deco era with purpose and determination!

This live storytelling performance will depict the journey of four prominent suffragettes of the Art Deco era. These four advocates fought to engage, empower, and educate American society about the importance of granting women the right to vote. During this live performance, guests will watch as Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Carrie Chapman Catt, and Alice Paul join each other at a kitchen table, planning their revolutionary suffrage campaign. The Ratification of the 19th Amendment on August 18, 1920, had a seismic effect on U.S. women – and the nation – which reverberates today. The ways in which the 19th Amendment still affects American society will also be explored during this captivating event.



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