Share your knowledge about transportation design

Twentieth-century transportation design is a new area of collecting and research for the MFA, and for historians of art and design in general. This makes researching these pieces great fun, but there are cases where visitors to the exhibition know the answers that have eluded curators. We asked visitors to share their knowledge and help us learn more about these objects.

Here are some updates to “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles: Selections from the Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf Collection” contributed by visitors:

Planes

We asked and you answered! So many visitors responded to our request for help with one of the plane models that the gallery label will be updated with the following text:

Stuka dive bomber, 1930s or 1940s
Aluminum

When this show opened, we had no idea which plane this model represented, so we asked for help through our e-mail address PTAHelp@mfa.org. A certain amount of embarrassment quickly followed, for it seems that nearly everyone who visits the show recognizes it immediately as a German Stuka dive bomber. The Stuka was one of the key German planes of World War II and is shown here as if in the middle of a diving attack. We received dozens of e-mails, often of dazzling erudition—proof that it never hurts to ask! Thank you to all!

Visitor comment:
The first plane I ever flew in was a TWA Lockheed Constellation from Boston to LaGuardia in 1958. It was big and dirty and it shook your teeth. What a thrill.

Trains

Thanks to the careful readers who have pointed out that the Burlington Zephyr’s famous run was “dawn to dusk,” not dust!

Automobiles

Visitor comment:
The “Airomobile” prototype model from 1936 reminded me of Buckminster Fuller’s “Dymaxion Car” from around 1933.