The Balloon: A Bicentennial Exhibition

To celebrate the invention of the balloon in 1783, the University Art Museum held a bicentennial exhibition in 1983... and collaborated with other arts organizations to provide events that featured the art, technology, and history of - the balloon.

hot air balloon poster

The 1984 U of M Summer Session Bulletin (contained within a "Ballooning" folder) features the ballooning festivities by including a cover image of a hot-air balloon that was present on campus (with a design that matches the original Montgolfier balloon).

From a September 6, 1983 UM News Release (Digital Conservancy),"200 Years of Ballooning Will Be Celebrated with Facts and Fancy at U of M Art Museum,"

"Original engravings, watercolors, etchings and decorative art objects will depict experiments and fantasies in balloon design and will indicate how the balloon was used as a symbol and in satire... An additional exhibition of photographic murals will show the development of flight from its invention to the present."

The exhibit included items from the U.S. Air Force Academy's Gimbel Aeronautical Collection, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Cooper Hewitt Museum in New York, MIA, as well as the U of M Libraries own ballooning collection.

(Today, Images of Ballooning from the Piccard, Scholl and Winzen Collections can be accessed from the UMedia Archive.)

The opening preview invitation for the exhibition reveals how "Ballooning" was introduced to the University... complete with fashion show, a gourmet balloon-inspired buffet dinner, and balloon launch. (Though, note that the fireworks were canceled).

Balloon schedule

The news release also indicates that music would compliment the festivities:

"Students and faculty of the university's School of Music will perform musical selections arranged by Professor Robert Laudon at 8 p.m. Nov. 9 in Scott Hall"

A recording from the performance was kept along with the exhibition files:

A book laying on a table
reel of film

Rebecca Wilson

Rebecca Wilson is a graduate student in the Master of Liberal Studies program at the University of Minnesota, completing a minor in Museum Studies. She also serves as a Visitor Services Assistant at the Weisman Art Museum.

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