Winter Park History Museum is presenting a year-long tribute to vintage vistas, vacation destinations, and local landmarks with “Hello Sunshine: Selling Florida Through the Art of Postcards.” The exhibit offers a unique look at local history that also documents travel industry marketing of statewide attractions over the first half of the 20th century.
Postcard images range from kitschy illustrations of alligators, beach scenes, and giant oranges to architectural photography and a stunning collection of moonlit scenery. “Hello Sunshine” was made possible by local resident and former Best Western Mount Vernon Inn owner Rick Frazee, who gifted his vast collection of more than 1,000 Winter Park postcards to the museum. The donation was supplemented by cards, pamphlets, and other media from statewide destinations to represent areas beyond the city limits.
“This is a first for us,” said Museum Executive Director Christy Grieger. “When the decision was made to include statewide locations we started sourcing vintage material through antique shops and flea markets.” Partnerships with Orange County Regional History Center, Winter Garden Heritage Museum, and the Henry B. Plant Museum in Tampa also broadened the collection.
A visitor center-style display of brochures represents a variety of attractions, a Winter Park timeline marks notable dates in local history, and a rotating installation – currently presenting a look back at area hotels – will rotate quarterly to focus on other city-centric aspects including lakes and streetscapes.
The exhibit also documents how Florida was marketed during different stages of the U.S. economy. According to Grieger, hyper-saturated postcards were published during the Great Depression to show Florida as a place “full of hope and brilliance.” And the agricultural industry is represented with its own installation that includes paintings by outsider artist Ruby C. Williams, who painted the signs and illustrations used by roadside fruit and vegetable vendors.
Winter Park History Museum is open Tuesday–Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Archives are open for public research and museum events include member mixers, a podcast, and a speaker series held at various locations. For more information, visit wphistory.org.