chapter  12
A Model for the Nation: Exhibiting Post-war Reconstruction at the Festival of Britain 1951
BySusanne Cowan
Pages 16

The legacy of 1940s exhibitions demonstrates the challenges faced by display designers in developing engaging, easily understood and memorable media for the average citizen. During World War Two, the British had developed a pervasive culture of display that reected the growing role of propaganda media in facilitating public discourse on policy issues. A variety of exhibition types by government agencies, professional groups, and social organisations addressed military and home front issues. The formation of an Exhibition Department in the Ministry of Information (MOI) in 1939 responded to a perceived need to monitor and bolster morale during the hardships of ‘total war’. The MOI alone produced numerous exhibits that travelled widely, and were viewed by a large segment of the population; by 1950 only 24 per cent of Londoners had never been to an Exhibition.1 These displays, often designed by unemployed architects, produced visually stimulating and politically persuasive propaganda materials, drawing from a growing body of research and practice on eective presentation strategies.2