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Object Timeline

1934

  • Work on this object began.

1983

  • We acquired this object.

2014

2017

2018

  • You found it!

Mural, The World of Radio, 1934

This is a Mural. It was made for Jessica Dragonette. It is dated 1934 and we acquired it in 1983. Its medium is cotton and its technique is wax resist dyeing (batik) on plain weave. It is a part of the Textiles department.

This batik mural, over 8 feet high and 16 feet wide, depicts radio star Jessica Dragonette (1900–1980) at the center of the “story of radio’s progress.” Dragonette brought operetta and semi-classical music to over 60 million viewers weekly, and was one of radio’s highest paid performers in the 1930s and 40s. The star is depicted atop a globe against a modern cityscape, with musical notes radiating in all directions, and is surrounded by images of theatrical figures and modern achievements, such as Richard Byrd’s radio contact from the South Pole, depicted on the bottom left. Giulio Marconi, the Italian inventor celebrated for his pioneering work in long-distance radio transmission, is depicted in the top right, next to an abstract, stylized pattern resembling an electrical diagram. A celebration of radio’s achievements as well as its potential, this mural signals the tremendous expansion and transformation of American information technology that would occur in the latter part of the century.

It is credited Gift of Nicholas Meredith Turner in memory of Jessica Dragonette..

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Its dimensions are

H x W: 262.9 × 492.8 cm (8 ft. 7 1/2 in. × 16 ft. 2 in.)

Cite this object as

Mural, The World of Radio, 1934; Made for Jessica Dragonette (American, 1900–1980); USA; cotton; H x W: 262.9 × 492.8 cm (8 ft. 7 1/2 in. × 16 ft. 2 in.); Gift of Nicholas Meredith Turner in memory of Jessica Dragonette.; 1983-73-1

This object was previously on display as a part of the exhibition The World of Radio.

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<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url=https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18801021/ |title=Mural, The World of Radio, 1934 |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=19 September 2018 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>