“Travels Through Africa” Opens at Grand Circle Gallery

  • BOSTON, Massachusetts
  • /
  • April 29, 2011

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Courtesy of International Poster Gallery

April 27, 2011 (Boston, MA) Grand Circle Gallery and International Poster Gallery jointly present, “Travels through Africa,” a stunning exhibit of vintage travel posters promoting travel to the region from the early 20th century through the late 1960s. The exhibit will run Friday, May 20, 2011 – Saturday, July 30, 2011, at Grand Circle Gallery, 347 Congress Street, Boston.

More than 30 vintage posters, most of which are on loan from Boston’s International Poster Gallery (IPG), will transport viewers to the exotic cities, lush jungles and breathtaking landscapes of the “Dark Continent” and will chronologically trace the rise of the tourism industry in the region. Visitors will also view authentic African artifacts and tribal costumes and jewelry. A collection of vintage luggage tags specific to the region will be on display.

There is also a small exhibit on Thomas Cook, the pioneer travel agent whose “Circular Ticket” offered travelers an opportunity to book all legs of a trip on a single ticket. Cook played a seminal role in the development of the travel agent business and tourism in Africa, mounting exciting and unprecedented tours around the continent, most notably and successfully so in Egypt.

The posters are exhibited in five major groupings and follow the gradual development of African tourism:   Egypt and North Africa, the coastlines of the Sub-Sahara, the African interior (i.e. Lake Victoria), tropical Africa and the rise of airline transportation to the continent in the 1960s. Most of the posters were designed or commissioned by tourist bureaus and transportation companies with the intent of romancing affluent European and American travelers to the continent.

IPG, located at 205 Newbury Street, is one of the leading antique poster galleries in the world. Owner Jim Lapides worked closely with Grand Circle Gallery in preparation for its opening last summer, lending his expertise in the travel poster genre.

“This is a wonderful, new collaboration between IPG and Grand Circle Gallery,” he said. “It is such a rich theme - with the beautifully-colored and detailed posters telling the story of the transformation of an entire continent over more than half a century. The allure of Egypt, for instance, was really spurred on by the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 and the stream of European royalty and fashionable aristocracy that began to winter in the cosmopolitan cities of Alexandria and Cairo.”

One of the most interesting of the posters is in the Art-Deco style and was commissioned by the Egypt State Tourist Department in 1939. “Institut Graphique Egyptien” depicts an angular black cat (an animal of worship in ancient Egypt) wearing a traditional scarab necklace. Another, “Winteraufenthalt in Assouan,” was created by British lithographer, Augustus Lamplough in 1911 and highlights North Africa as a winter destination of European royalty.

Grand Circle Gallery will host special activities and events for adults, families and children tied to the exhibit, including dance and music programming and craft making workshops.

The posters on loan from IPG are for sale following the close of the show. To view the more than 4500 original vintage posters on IPG’s website, please visit www.internationalposter.com.

Grand Circle Gallery’s new and expanded hours are Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, 11:00am-6:00pm and Thursday, 11:00am-8:00pm. Admission is FREE and the gallery is handicap accessible. For more information, please visit www.gct.com/grandcirclegallery or call 617 346-6459.


Joshua Payne
Fusco and Four

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