Barcelona Cultura

Last days to travel back to 20th century advertising

"As a child, I was fascinated by the insurance plates that were found on the facades of the towns I visited. By chance, I found a Catalan one in perfect condition; and from then on, I started collecting tin and cardboard posters." This discovery when he was 13 years old, which motivated the collector Mateu Llinàs to gather antique advertising heritage, became the basis of the latest temporary exhibition "The Advertising Boom: Tin, cardboard and tile posters, 1890-1950", which is open until Sunday March 31st at Museu del Disseny.

So far, more than 40,000 people have enjoyed the collection, which takes you on a journey through graphic commercial advertising from the 19th century until the mid-20th century. The exhibition brings together the posters dedicated to the dissemination of everyday products, which changed from popular paper posters to new media such as ceramic tile, tin and cardboard, and consequently gave color to the streets and shop windows throughout the country.

One of the stops along the route is food. Due to the lifestyle changes that the Industrial Revolution brought, products such as Kohler chocolate bars and the alternative to coffee Malta Natura became accessible not only to the bourgeoisie but also to the lower classes. Although the first commercial posters were closer to art than to advertising strategies, the aim was to divulge the qualities and benefits of the products. Little by little, and progressively, the message would become more professional and the slogans would reinvent themselves in order to grab the customer's attention.

Alcoholic and soft drinks also lived the revolution of graphic advertising very closely. Fernet Branca and Cava Codorniu, for instance, were advertised on ceramic panels or posters, made from white-paste tiles decorated using the tubat technique. As this material was more resistant, it could be used outside, especially on shop façades, where the shine of the glazes and enamels helped to catch the attention of passers-by and contributed to its popularization.

In the same way, both the industrial wave and modern life meant the arrival of new habits and, therefore, new products in the perfume and cosmetics, fashion, health, and pharmaceutical sectors, as well as engineering and technology. For example, the Weltheim sewing machines, Pidot-Courtade knives and Calcosam paper that you will find in the exhibition are some of the most iconic references of 20th century advertising.

If you have not visited "The Advertising Boom" yet, we recommend you take a look at the history of advertising before next Sunday March 31st. And if you want a deeper insight into the curiosities that the exhibition hides, on Saturday 30th at 11am there will be a last guided tour, included in the ticket price. You will find all the information here. We look forward to seeing you!


Ajuntament de Barcelona