Classic Plastics 1870s–1970s
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
CONTACT: Charles Schuler
Associate Deputy Airport Director
Communications & Marketing
San Francisco International Airport
Classic Plastics 1870s–1970s
New exhibition explores a century of plastics and their impact on everyday life
SAN FRANCISCO -- Imagine the excitement generated by the first man-made plastics. These moldable materials served as substitutes for dwindling supplies of natural plastics and precious materials such as tortoiseshell, horn, shellac, ivory, and even silk. Early plastics enabled manufacturers to introduce a host of affordable new products and allowed for tremendous technological advances. American John Wesley Hyatt patented celluloid, a semi-synthetic plastic, in 1870 after trying to find a replacement for ivory billiard balls.
Nearly forty years later, in an attempt to make an alternative electrical insulator to shellac, which derives from lac bug secretions, Belgian-born Leo Baekeland created the first entirely synthetic plastic, Bakelite, in 1907. Scientists continued to invent new types of plastics during World War II, while manufacturers and designers constantly found new uses for it. Early celluloid vanity sets, eyeglasses, jewelry, radios, vinyl records, cameras, handbags, and mid-century furnishings are some of the many important everyday items molded in plastic, which are displayed in the exhibition.
Selected images from the exhibition are available for download at: http://www.flysfo.com/museum/exhibitions/classic-plastics-1870s-1970s-0
Classic Plastics 1870s–1970s is located pre-security in the International Terminal Main Hall Departures Lobby, San Francisco International Airport. The exhibition is on view to all Airport visitors from June 29, 2013 to January 5, 2014. There is no charge to view the exhibition..
SFO Museum was established by the Airport Commission in 1980 for the purposes of humanizing the Airport environment, providing visibility for the unique cultural life of San Francisco, and providing educational services for the traveling public. The Museum was granted initial accreditation from the American Alliance of Museums in 1999, reaccredited in 2005, and has the distinction of being the country’s only accredited museum in an airport. Today, SFO Museum features approximately twenty galleries throughout the Airport terminals displaying a rotating schedule of art, history, science, and cultural exhibitions, as well as the San Francisco Airport Commission Aviation Library and Louis A. Turpen Aviation Museum, a permanent collection dedicated to the history of commercial aviation. For more information, please visit
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