New Arms Museum Exhibit Shows Life in 1950s

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — Walk back in time and see how residents of the Mahoning Valley lived in the 1950s as illustrated in a new exhibit open at The Arms Family Museum.

The exhibit, “Mid Century Modern in the Mahoning Valley,” highlights the design elements, furnishings, and accessories of the era.

After the World War II, architects and designers came up with new streamlined designs using glass, concrete, and steel, as well as new materials like fiberglass and plastics for the mass production of consumer goods, notes Leann Rich, external relations manager for the Mahoning Valley Historical Society.

The design of this period — from the late 1940’s through the 1960’s — embraced the technological advancements and natural forms using bold colors and streamlined edges. Living spaces became more casual, with wide open spaces for family friendly entertaining, and outdoor spaces became more important as designers focused on the connection between indoor and outdoor living.

“The mid century modern period has had a revival among designers and collectors, especially for the original and fascinating design motifs,” says Bill Lawson., executive director of the Mahoning Valley Historical Society. “Along with focusing on the home and office furnishings of the period, the exhibit features the local manufacturers that were household names of the period: names like Youngstown Kitchen, Plakie Toys and General Fireproofing.”

Artifacts and furniture show a living room in the postwar era.

The exhibit highlights the 1948 Youngstown Kitchen set acquired by the Historical Society in 2016, from a donation by Michael and Jeannette Garvey, and a collection of merchandise from the Plakie Toy Co. that was donated by Dean Hoover, the son of the company’s founders.

The board of directors of the Historical Society recently rededicated the museum gallery as the Anne Kilcawley Christman Decorative Arts Gallery. Christman was a highly engaged community volunteer serving on boards of multiple organizations. The Christman Foundation, established in 2003, provides critical perpetual financial support to the Mahoning Valley Historical Society.

The museum, 648 Wick Ave., is open Tuesday through Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. Admission is $7 for adults, $6 for senior citizens and college students, and $5 for children. Admission includes a same day visit to the Tyler History Center and both archives collections.

Pictured at top: A kitchen from the 1950s with cabinetry made by Youngstown Kitchen.

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