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The Chrysler gets nostalgic with Colorama: panoramic photos reflect life and times of an idealized 1960s
Lee Howick. Thanksgiving Dinner, children breaking wishbone, displayed October 28–November 18, 1968. Copyright Eastman Kodak Co. Courtesy George Eastman House.
NORFOLK, VA.- The Chrysler Museum of Art’s newest photography exhibition invites viewers to discover America in the 1960s as it probably never was. Colorama’s amazing array of 36 panoramic prints presents the American ideal—heartwarming holidays, sweeping landscapes, fun family vacations, grand excursions—and the virtue of amateur photography. The exhibition is on view through December 31, and admission is free.

For 40 years travelers at New York's Grand Central Terminal scurried to their destinations under the brilliance of one of the most effective advertising programs in history, Kodak's Coloramas. The massive panoramas were known as the largest photographs in the world. All told, 565 of these 18’ x 60’ illuminated illustrations adorned the terminal from 1950 to 1990, and the campaign included images by some of the top photographers in the country, including Ansel Adams.

With both technical and marketing brilliance, Coloramas extolled an idealized version of America—not to mention the need to capture this version of the good life on film. In their time, these purposefully nostalgic prints represented amateur photography as an essential element of family life, travel and leisure. Now they represent a time that, in a sense, never was.

The Chrysler’s Colorama exhibition of one-twelfth-size prints proves that advertising can also be art—and rarely has nostalgia looked so good. The exhibition is organized by the George Eastman House, the international museum of photography and film.

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