Every day, the New York Museum of Modern Art’s invaluable collections draw droves of visitors with gems like Henri Rousseau’s Sleeping Gypsy, The Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh and Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon.
But walk away from the crowds, and you’ll discover that the museum is also full of top-notch design and technology. There’s Arthur Young’s “bug-eyed” Bell-47D1 dragonfly of a helicopter hovering near the entrance, the sleek silhouette of John Barnard’s bright red Ferrari Formula 1 racing car, and even a techno-optimistic print of a giant GE vacuum tube from the Bauhaus-trained designer Herbert Bayer, titled “Electronics – A New Science for a New World.” (See below.)
It turns out that GE technology and artifacts are part of many museums and art collections, both private and public. We’ve gathered a sampling. Take a look:
Top image: In 2011, the Egyptologist Peter Lacovara used a CT scanner to examine the 3,000-year-old mummy of the Egyptian priest and sculptor Ankhefenmut. (There still no smartphones with X-ray vision.) But it wasn’t the first time scientists used GE technology to study museum exhibits. In 1939, GE medical scanners produced X-ray images of mummies for the New York World’s Fair. Image courtesy of the New York Public Library. Above: Herbert Bayer’s GE vacuum tube poster. Image credit: Museum of Innovation and Science
GE commissioned art for advertising, posters and calendars from many famous artists, including Norman Rockwell. Image credit: GE Lighting.
Dr. Seuss drew this whimsical GE ad. Image courtesy of the Dr. Seuss Collection at the University of California, San Diego.
Cult science-fiction illustrator Dean Ellis drew a scene of the changing face of downtown America, circa. 1967, for a GE calendar.
The Museum of Innovation and Science in Schenectady holds a treasure trove of GE history, including an image of aviator Amelia Earhart from her visit to GE labs. Image credit: Museum of Innovation and Science
GE made this decorative Halloween lightbulb in the 1970s and 1980s. It’s now part of the collection at the National Museum of American History
The Voyager 1 spacecraft recently became the fist object made by humans to reach the edge of interstellar space. GE engineers designed the Voyager’s command computers directing the flight path and providing communication links with NASA Mission Control, as well as the probe’s power source called radioisotope thermoelectric generator (RTG). The probe launched into space in 1977 and the RTG and other systems are still working. You can see a copy of the Voyager at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. Image credit: Museum of Innovation and Science
GE Foundation just sent $3.2 million to support technical and STEM education in New York City. But the company has been trying to get kids hooked on science for decades. One effort included comic books illustrated by George “Inky” Roussos, who also worked on Batman. The red GE “top hat” transistor in this image innovated Bayer’s vacuum tube out of existence and secured a spot in the Semiconductor Museum. Image credit: Museum of Innovation and Science