There are exactly 889 individual travel posters in the Los Angeles Public Library’s possession and I am without a doubt the only person to have seen each and every one. My name is Kaitlyn Levesque and I have had the privilege of spending my summer with the LAPL as the 2014 Getty Multicultural Intern. My job--give a much needed home and inventory to the LAPL's collection of vintage travel posters.
If you have ever payed Central a visit, you may in fact already be familiar with these travel posters. Several reproductions have been displayed around the ground floor of the building. However, these are but a small fraction of the true collection, which ranges from the French Railways of the 1890s, to the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic games, and just about everything else in between.
I am an archaeologist by training; used to studying ancient histories, civilizations that existed 3,000 years ago--this opportunity to study recent history was fascinating. These posters, while beautiful works of art and advertisement, also happen to be valuable pieces of history. I began to look at them as artifacts, each with an individual life and story attached. In what country did they originate, who was their audience, where would they have been displayed, were they modified, how did they end up with the LAPL?
While investigating these questions, I was taken aback by how much history presented itself to me: international relations, wars, recovery efforts, class dichotomy, travel innovations, photography, modernity, the list goes on. Each poster has an individual personality, but together the collection stands as an amazing window into the history of travel throughout the world and much of the 20th century.
It is now my pelasure to introduce to you this fantastically rich and rather extensive collection. I do so with a sampling of my personal favorites, picked for equal parts history and adventure. The biggest thing this collection has reminded me of, is to always ask questions and never stop exploring. 100 years later and these posters have yet to lose their touch.
I am off to travel.