Yakima Valley Museum

Art of War: Posters Promoting Service and Sacrifice

On exhibit at Yakima Valley Museum, March 1-August 18, 2013


"He kept us out of war" was the campaign slogan of President Woodrow Wilson when he ran for re-election in 1916, because most Americans favored isolationism over joining the European allies against the German Empire. In addition, the country was not financially prepared for a major military conflict overseas. Yet, when Wilson entered the Great War in 1917, the American people overwhelmingly responded with funds, resources, and the ultimate sacrifice--their lives.

Similarly, when Franklin Roosevelt ran for his second presidential term in 1940, most Americans were against entering the Second World War. Yet, even before we suffered the infamous Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the U.S. Government had swayed public opinion in favor of supporting the allies in their military struggle.

What force was able to persuade an entire population to sacrifice their lives and their lifestyle and ready a country for war?
One of the most effective tools for shaping public opinion was the combination of powerful words and images found in posters created during World War I and World War II--posters that were strategically targeted to achieve precise and specific goals. These posters are also beautiful and significant pieces of 20th century American art.

No one knows all this better than Jim Givan. Even before beginning his life-long career in the Marine Corps, Jim began collecting war posters. His wife Sheron joined him and, as the collection grew, so did Jim's knowledge of the military history that gives meaning to each one.
Jim Givan has offered to lend his expertise--and posters--to the Yakima Valley Museum for exhibition. On Friday, March 1, you will be able to view some of these marvelous war posters when you visit the special exhibit Art of War: Posters Promoting Service and Sacrifice. This informative exhibit features a selection of posters that trace the story of American military and hometown efforts in both World Wars and was curated by Jim Givan.
Although you wouldn’t think it, this new special exhibit is similar to its predecessor, Head Over Heels Over Heels, which ended its run at the museum at the end of 2012. Like that exhibit, Art of War: Posters Promoting Service and Sacrifice was made possible by the generosity of a local collector who is dedicated, knowledgeable, and passionate about his "hobby." Exhibits like this represent the best of what local museums can do for their community.


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