Collection of Posters
THE POSTER AT EVERY STEP
The poster, as a synonym for a placard, is a larger piece, or sheet of paper bearing some kind of announcement, decree or invitation, and is usually artistically decorated. As such, it is graphically designed, through a combination of text, art and graphic elements in multi-coloured print form. It is posted in a public place with the aim of conveying a message to the general public, and encompasses political, cultural, event, tourism and advertising messages. As a mass medium for the visual communication of current information and massages, the poster is also the favoured medium for advertising and propaganda.
We speak of the poster in the modern sense, since the last quarter of the 19th Century, when the development of printing technology enabled the printing of multiple colour copies on large sheets of paper. The blossoming of the use of posters in Europe was dictated by the development on the industrial-consumer society and the need to advertise products. The power of posters to spread a message has also been used by several political and ideological movements. During the 20th Century the poster became a strong visual element of space and time, and a big part of our everyday life. An especially successful poster is one that people notice, is able to convey its message to the viewer, is remembered by the viewer and triggers a reaction to the message in the viewer. It is with us at every step we take: at roadsides, in cities and rural areas, in public spaces and often also in apartments, since a good poster has become a work of art. Today, because of its abundance, constant presence, aggressiveness in conveying its message, and constantly evolving shapes and developing formats enabled by new technologies, the poster is often regarded as a disturbing element and pollutant of the environment.
THE POSTER AS A MUSEUM ARTEFACT
The poster is a reflection of the time and place in which it is created, as well as the society which produced it, and is also, being a very current medium, extremely responsive to change and contemporary events. With its visual aesthetic and graphic solutions, and especially with its often symbolic message, it is a representative of the modern age. This is why the poster is a characteristic social element and document of the times, as well as an important historical and ethnological source for the study of political, social, economical, cultural and everyday events, as well as an interesting museum artefact.
Posters form part of the non-literary material called fine prints, which is primarily kept by libraries and archives, as well as museums. Fine prints are intended for general use, the conveying of current information and propaganda in all areas of modern life. This type of material is our everyday companion, and even though it often seems insignificant, it is nevertheless a strong witness to places, times and events. Often it is also the only original material evidence of a certain event or moment in history, which is why it is of great documentary value. Through the thoughtful collection, valuation and keeping of this material, it also becomes historic documents, and a museum artefact, which is often used to augment three-dimensional museum exhibits. Already in the mid-1970s the Gorenjska Museum started actively documenting the modern times in the Gorenjska region. Since then the museum has also collected documented photographs and fine prints, which are the most numerous and representative, or specific, to a certain place or group of people in modern times. A special collection of fine prints of recent history and modernity of the Gorenjska region (NZdt), has been created to handle this modern material, which today contains almost 13,000 units, and is growing all the time. Most of the material is made up of catalogues, brochures, posters, flyers and postcards, while the remainder comprises very diverse and widely accessible printed material and other fine prints. We normally obtain the material as we go along, when following current events in the field and with the event’s organisers, while it often offers itself in our mailboxes, notice boars and stands, in the street, behind our screen wipers, …
THE COLLECTION OF POSTERS OF RECENT HISTORY AND MODERNITY
We collect posters at the Gorenjska Museum for their content and messages. The collection of posters of recent history and modernity is part of the collection of fine prints of recent history and consists of 1,620 inventories items. The posters are of varied content and design quality, of different sizes, and different qualities of paper and print. We receive the posters from organisers, employees, visitors to events, and printing houses. Many of the posters have been used and then removed from where they were hung, which is why they are not all equally well preserved, and are often torn or damaged in some way.
Most of the posters are from the period from the mid-1970s onwards up until today. We also keep some older, pre-World War Two items. The oldest poster in the collection is from 1913, and once invited people o the festivities to the 50th Anniversary of the National Reading Room in Kranj. It is one of the oldest preserved Slovenian posters and was printed in the Sava Printing House in Kranj. From the 1930s we have the advertising poster for the Knitting Factory of Lojze Kristan from Zapuže, and the 1937 poster for the 6th Skiing Competition of the Sokol Society of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. From the time immediately following World War II we have posters with announcements and decrees by the new government, while the posters from the 1950s and 1960s announce various celebrations and commemorations of anniversaries, cultural events, and sports and society events. The collection of recent history and modernity posters can roughly be separated into four groups based on their content and main purpose: socio-political, cultural, entertainment and advertising.
The socio-political posters comprise those issued by the state, republic, municipal and local authorities, as well as by various social organisations and groups, and the posters of political alliances and parties of recent times. In the months following the end of World War II the new local and municipal authorities published their decrees and announcements on posters and flyers that were aimed at the establishment of a new way of life after the war. From the 1950s until the end of the 1980s the government issued posters announcing elections, congresses, rallies, political demonstrations, celebrations, social and labour events, and so on. Various municipal and county events and manifestations were organised by local authorities and organisations. Furthermore, we keep posters of local celebrations of national holidays, such as the 1st of May, and Liberation Front day, assemblies commemorating the anniversaries of important World War II battles and other important events in Gorenjska’s past. Posters with programmes for an event were a very popular way of announcing local events, which in the beginning were more politically-cultural, but since the end of the 1980s have been replaced by cultural, sports and social events. With the initial political and societal changes at the end of the 1980s and beginning of the 1990s, the propaganda political poster reappeared, and we can also in narrower local environments once again find posters inviting to political-cultural events in support of the political changes and the process of Slovenia gaining independence. We also keep the election flyers of the parties from the first multi-party elections held in 1990 and onwards. The election posters and flyers from all the parliamentary, presidential and local elections of the parties and party candidates of the Gorenjska region are also collected.
There have also been many cultural posters that once announced various cultural events. Of note are the interesting theatre posters, among which we keep an extensive collection for performances at the Prešeren Theatre in Kranj, and of the annual Slovenian Drama Week in Kranj. We also collect posters of shows from other amateur theatres in Gorenjska, annual regional theatre meetings, singing and folklore groups of Gorenjska, children’s puppet shows, various concerts, film festivals, graphic and museum exhibitions and other cultural events. In the 1980s the Kranj municipality started regularly issuing a now traditional poster with a list of all the events accompanying The Slovenian Cultural Holiday on the 8th of February.
Other posters announcing various events are counted among the event posters. Most abundant are those for international sporting events which took place in Gorenjska, such as the World and European Skiing Championships, traditional World Cup competitions in ski jumping, alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, rowing, parachuting, and so on. We also keep posters of national and regional competitions, as well as for amateur competitions. There are numerous other posters for cultural, sports and social events during local celebrations and anniversaries of various societies. Lastly, we keep many posters for traditional ethnological-tourism and social events such as the Farm Wedding, Cow Ball, Shepherds Ball, Shoemakers Sunday and various fairs, and presentations of old-time trades and customs connected to the local environment, which have often kept their traditional design.
Among the commercial and advertising group that is propaganda posters in the narrow sense, there are those commissioned by companies in Gorenjska for the promotion or advertising of their brand names and products. Most of the posters are from the 1980s and 1990s, when the firms became aware of the importance of advertising in trying to raise sales and started to actively market their products. The most successful firms were those who spent the most on promotion. These were also the ones that were at the pinnacle of the national economy and had begun to extend their business to foreign markets. The posters most often depicted a photograph of a product and the logo of the company. Sports equipment was most often endorsed by the most successful Slovenian and world athletes. Among the commercial posters, we also include those for various business events and fairs.
The tourism poster is also an important type, and was historically used mainly for the promotion of the most interesting tourist places, such as Bled, Kranjska Gora, and Bohinj. These are also the places most commonly visited by foreign tourists, while tourist posters of the other towns in the Gorenjska region and smaller places are fewer. The tourist posters most often depict natural wonders, and local characteristics and attractions, and are regularly published by tourism societies, local tourism organisations and municipalities.
Despite all the new media available to today’s advertising, as well as all the new methods of advertising, the poster remains a popular tool for mass advertising and informing, and a favourite way of inviting visitors to mass activities and events. That is why the poster as a document remains an interesting modern museum artefact.