Selections of the Melhuish collection of World War II propaganda posters is now on exhibition at Peel Art Gallery Museum + Archives.

During World War II (1939-1945)  posters were generated to keep citizens up-to-date on the home front and what was happening abroad — they acted as a vital communication medium. They also symbolized an important art form during that time. Posters were produced by government agencies and commercial firms, conveying messages through a combination of emotional illustrations and memorable phrases of text. They inspired patriotism and urged citizens to make sacrifices for the country.

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Not surprisingly, posters were utilized to aid in wartime efforts including the recruitment of people into the workforce to produce weapons, aircrafts and other materials. Posters helped to mobilize the masses and to get people behind the troops abroad.

They also were the main means of communication at the time. They could be produced at a relatively low-cost and were flexible enough to be printed in different sizes and displayed in lots of different places — on billboards, in shop windows, in theatres, on buses, matchbox covers and anywhere else they could reasonably fit.

The exhibit at PAMA showcases some of the different posters designed at the time and offers insight into how they were developed, their messaging, the depiction of women, use of symbolism and more.

The exhibit is insightful, eye-opening and at times humourous — you’ll be surprised by some of the messaging used in various posters.

Come on Canada! Selections from the Melhuish Collection of World War II Posters is on now until December at Peel Art Gallery Museum + Archives. Find out more here.

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