Smithsonian adds visionary leaders Byron Lewis and Lillian Vernon to landmark "American Enterprise" exhibition

The First Art Newspaper on the Net    Established in 1996 Monday, June 17, 2024

Smithsonian adds visionary leaders Byron Lewis and Lillian Vernon to landmark "American Enterprise" exhibition
“Lillian Vernon, Kitchen Table Millionaire”

WASHINGTON, DC.- Collections from groundbreaking entrepreneurs Byron Lewis and Lillian Vernon will be showcased in a new display within the landmark “American Enterprise” exhibition at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History beginning Oct. 17. The two stories, “Lillian Vernon, Kitchen Table Millionaire” and “Byron Lewis, Ad King Extraordinaire,” will be featured in the exhibition’s Consumer Era (1940s–1970s) section.

The exhibit will feature selected objects from across both entrepreneurs’ career trajectories, including Vernon’s original yellow Formica kitchen table and Lewis’ antique French provincial desk and chair. Her kitchen table served as a foundation for Vernon’s home business-turned-major corporation, The Lillian Vernon Corp., and Lewis ran his pioneering ad agency, UniWorld Group, from behind this desk.

“Innovations in broadcasting, advertising, postwar consumerism and an increased number of women and African Americans in the business world really begins between the 1960s and 1970s,” said Anthea M. Hartig, the museum’s Elizabeth MacMillan Director. “It is in this ‘consumer era’ that we see entrepreneurs such as Lewis’ and Vernon use their persistence, creativity and drive to launch and see their enterprises thrive.”

As a young, married woman in 1951, Vernon began selling monogrammed accessories from her kitchen table to earn additional income for her family. Starting with a handbag that was manufactured by her father and advertised in Seventeen magazine, Vernon sold her products using niche marketing and direct-mail catalogs. These innovations helped her home business flourish, eventually expanding into a major corporation by the 1990s. Graphics of those early ad campaigns, along with an early example of the monogramed purse from 1951, will be on view. The Lillian Vernon Corp. became the first women-founded business to be publicly traded on an American stock exchange.

Lewis founded UniWorld group in 1969, inspired by his time working in the multicultural neighborhoods of New York City. As the CEO of UniWorld, Lewis advanced the interests of Black consumers and promoted the work of Black artists, filmmakers, activists and politicians. Among his many projects, Lewis promoted the 1971 movie Shaft, co-directed the National Black Political Convention and UniWorld was the first Black-owned agency to land a general consumer campaign with “3 Musketeers” candy. In recognition of author Alexandre Dumas’ French and African ancestry, he cast a Black actor as one of the three musketeers. Three swords used in that campaign will be on view along with a number of awards, including one recognizing Lewis’ induction into the Advertising Hall of Fame by the American Advertising Federation in 2013.

“American Enterprise” chronicles the tumultuous interaction of capitalism and democracy that resulted in the continuous remaking of American business—and American life. Visitors are immersed in the dramatic arc of labor, power, wealth, success and failure in an 8,000-square-foot gallery.

To mark the opening of the exhibit, the museum will present a panel discussion at 4 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 17, “Women’s Business: From Kitchen Table to C-Suite,” focusing on how women of color are changing the ways Americans do business, moderated by MSNBC news anchor Symone D. Sanders-Townsend. Free reserved tickets are available through Eventbrite. An objects out-of-storage with additional artifacts from Vernon and Lewis will be featured during the event.

The exhibition was made possible by significant support from Mars Inc., the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation and SC Johnson. Generous support came from Intel, Monsanto Co., the United Soybean Board and History Channel, with additional support by Motorola Foundation, 3M, Pete and Linda Claussen, the William T. Kemper Foundation and John Deere.

Today's News

October 16, 2023

Facing scrutiny, a museum that holds 12,000 human remains changes course

Portraits of members of one of the oldest & most important Gloucestershire families head to auction

Almine Rech opens Kenny Scharf's second solo exhibition at the gallery in Paris

White Cube Paris opens an exhibition of works by TARWUK

Kennedy Yanko's 'She is a Verb' opens at Salon 94

Piper Laurie, reluctant starlet turned respected actress, dies at 91

Special exhibition "Designing the Beautiful Game" officially inaugurated at The FIFA Museum in Zurich

Craft in America Center presents 'Influences/Influencers: California Fibers'

Double exhibition at Strawberry Hill House shows the past and present of woodcuts

Scottish artist duo Beagles & Ramsay exhibition of new work opens at Glasgow's GoMA

New exhibition at Orlando Museum of Art explores the essence of motherhood

A play revisits the making of 'Death of a Salesman' in Mandarin

NGV launches new podcast Connecting the Dots: First Peoples Art from the NGV with Tony Armstrong

Related Group unveils Andare Residences by Pininfarina

Smithsonian adds visionary leaders Byron Lewis and Lillian Vernon to landmark "American Enterprise" exhibition

In an opera about Civil War spies, dancers help drive the drama

Ballet thrives on live coaching. Her roots extend to the source.

Chen Ke opens 'Bauhaus Gal - Theatre' at Perrotin in Paris

Solo show by Wang Keping opens at Domaine national de Chambord

Survey of artists from Robert Curcio's 30-year career on view at Lichtundfire

Jack Hanley Gallery opens an exhibition with new works by Sophie Treppendahl

Conservation of "Border Crossing": Iconic sculpture at ISU is undergoing specialized treatments

Smithsonian acquires collection of work attributed to poet Phillis Wheatley Peters

Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .


Ignacio Villarreal
(1941 - 2019)
Editor & Publisher: Jose Villarreal
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez
Writer: Ofelia Zurbia Betancourt

Royalville Communications, Inc
Founder's Site. Hommage
to a Mexican poet.

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful