Spring 2024 SCRC Exhibition: 'Plasticized: The Proliferation of Plastics in the 20th Century'

Jan. 29, 2024, 9 a.m.

two hands holding plastic wrap in front of apple on tree
“Perfect pair. The ripe perfection of a juicy red apple, protected by Polyflex film from tree to market.” Opening Gun of a Revolution in Packaging...The Story of Monsanto’s Packaging Division, circa 1963, Eugene F. Phillips Papers, Special Collection

Syracuse University Libraries’ Special Collections Research Center’s (SCRC) Spring 2024 exhibition, titled “Plasticized: The Proliferation of Plastics in the 20th Century,” opens February 26 and will run through August 2024 on the 6th floor of Bird Library.

In the second half of the 20th century, and particularly during the American post-World War II period, plastic technology and manufacturing progressed so rapidly that scholars have deemed this period the “Great Acceleration.” During these years, the spread of plastics exploded globally both in production and consumption, forever changing how we live our lives within the material world, altering Earth’s environment and human and non-human bodies in ways just now coming to the surface of our collective understanding.

Curated by Lead Curator and Curator of Plastics and Historical Artifacts, Courtney Hicks, Plasticized: The Proliferation of Plastics in the 20th Century presents archival materials which document a selection of plastics’ former lives, aspirations, applications and affects while also offering a glimpse into the world of those individuals and communities often invisible behind the plastic objects themselves. Featuring materials from the Plastics collection area at Syracuse University Libraries’ Special Collections Research Center, these selections provide historical traces of those who imagined, designed, worked with, consumed, promoted, marketed and resisted this uniquely synthetic material. Explore plastic through its industrial introduction to its universal presence in our everyday lives.

This opening reception for the exhibition is being held on February 29 from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Those interested in attending the opening reception can register online.

About Special Collections Research Center and Syracuse University Libraries:

Syracuse University Libraries’ Special Collections Research Center collects, preserves and provides access to materials that document the history of Syracuse University and our global society, including rare printed materials, original manuscripts, photographs, artworks, audio and moving image recordings, University records and more. Collection areas include activism and social reform, radicalism in the arts, architecture and industrial design, photography, the history of recorded sound and more. Located on the 6th floor of Bird Library, the SCRC is a vibrant research and learning environment for Syracuse University students, faculty and the broader scholarly community, providing access to world-renowned rare and archival collections and expert guidance in their use to facilitate personal discovery and the creation of new knowledge.

Previous Next