When chemists first successfully extracted aluminum from the earth in the mid-19th century, the raw element was as precious as gold. Today we take this ubiquitous material for granted, though aluminum allows for nearly every facet of modern life through its use in architecture, industry, and flight. This exhibition, drawn from NOMA’s permanent collection, explores the changing role of aluminum in twentieth-century design.

“Saturn” punch service

c. 1935

Wright, Russel

Spun aluminum with lacquered wood handles

12 x 20 in.

Museum purchase, William McDonald Boles and Eva Carol Boles Fund

“Aero-art” Service Cart for Douglas DC3 Aircraft

1938 design

Frantz Industries

Aluminum, Bakelite, and rubber tires

37 x 15 x 32 in.

Gift of Dr. Ronald Swartz and Ellen Johnson