In the America on the Move exhibition, curators wanted to highlight the radiator emblem collection and explain trends in automobile manufacturing, but they were limited by space. Curators decided to use the radiator emblemssmall, but representative, parts of much larger objectsto tell the story.
The number of automobile manufactures in the United States changed dramatically during the first half of the 20th century. In the early 1900s, there were only a few manufacturers producing a limited number of vehicles. The number of manufactures steadily increased, peaking in the 1920s with over 100 manufacturers. Competition and consolidation during the Great Depression greatly reduced the number of manufactures. There are now fewer manufacturers producing more models and more vehicles. How many American manufacturers can you name today?
The exhibit team decided to make a bar graph showing the number of manufactures in five year periods. The bars of the graph were studded with radiator emblems, each representing approximately 35 manufacturers. Emblems were chosen for display because they represented different types of engines (electric, steam, and gas), showed different cities of manufacturing, had interesting mottos, or were artistically distinctive.