A Depression-era, monumental batik mural entitled The World of Radio is the focus of this exhibition of iconic radios, radio design drawings, and photographs from the early twentieth century through  the present day. Designed by Arthur Gordon Smith, the mural celebrates the career of Jessica Dragonette, one of radio’s most popular personalities of the 1930s. On view for the first time in nearly three decades, the mural also includes over a dozen vignettes illustrating radio’s formative events and personalities.

Radios designed by pioneering industrial designers such as Donald Deskey, Dieter Rams, and Henry Dreyfuss are installed alongside drawings by hand of prototypes for radio consoles and cabinets designed to enhance a modern home. The exhibition also underscores the technological advancement of radio electronics—from electric powered to portables to digital media players—and includes examples of historically significant radios.

exhibition highlights

The World of Radio
The World of Radio features the central figure of soprano and radio star Jessica Dragonette (American, 1900–1980). Commissioned in 1933 by her sister, Nadea Dragonette Loftus, this mesmerizing mural decorated the singer’s top-floor apartment on East 57th Street. Over 8 feet high and 16 feet wide, the mural is a highly personal tribute to Dragonette’s...
Tischsuper, but not Kitschsuper: Dieter Rams’ RT 20 Radio for Braun
Designed by Dieter Rams in 1961, the Tischsuper RT 20 Radio is a perfect reflection of Rams’ maxim “Less, but better.” While this radio is undeniably modern, it is not austere. Rams’ use of the serene colors cream and laurel green create a design that exudes a natural sense of calm. Moreover, the gently sloping...