Entrances to Voder Room auditorium Banner ?>

New York 1939 World's Fair: AT&T Building

Flushing, NY

Entrances to Voder Room auditorium

Communication of Thought by Sound and the Spoken Word; Communication of Thought by Sight and the Written Word, 1939

Commissioned by: Voorhees, Walker, Foley & SmithMedium: glass mosaic and colored cementExecuted by: Ravenna MosaicsNonextant

Detail of map from Official Guide Book – New York World

Detail of map from Official Guide Book – New York World's Fair 1940 showing location of the AT&T Building

AT&T Building, entrances to Voder Room auditorium filmed by Hildreth Meière, 1939. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC

At the entrances to the auditorium where visitors could hear a device called a Voder that simulated the human voice, Hildreth Meière created two murals on the facade in glass mosaic: Communication of Thought by Sound and the Spoken Word and Communication of Thought by Sight and the Written Word.1

Entrances to Voder Room auditorium

Entrances to Voder Room auditorium

Meière achieved a striking effect by placing vignettes of figures composed of glass mosaic in dark colors against a ground of coral-colored cement. Meière explained the cost consideration involved:

...ten percent of the mosaic had to be so designed as to decorate adequately the ninety per cent of the area of cheaper material—more would have made the price of the decorations prohibitive.2
Detail of Communication of Thought by Sound and the Spoken Word

Detail of Communication of Thought by Sound and the Spoken Word

As with her representation of telephone and telegraph wires on the overdoors at the entrance to the Bell System exhibit on the other side of the AT&T Building, she depicted them in parallel lines of gold tesserae, a device she had also used on her ceiling for the AT&T Long Distance Building in Manhattan in 1932.

When asked whether she was troubled by the impermanence of her designs for the fair, Meière explained:

The artist’s real fun is in the doing of his job; as to whether people like it when it is done and whether it endures or not, interesting as these points are to him, they are apart from that creative, subjective experience which is his life.3
AT&T Building showing entrances to Voder Room auditorium

AT&T Building showing entrances to Voder Room auditorium

1

For a full discussion, see Catherine Coleman Brawer and Kathleen Murphy Skolnik, The Art Deco Murals of Hildreth Meière (New York: Andrea Monfried Editions, 2014): 187-91.

2

Hildreth Meière, “Working for a World’s Fair,” Journal of the Associated Alumnae of the Sacred Heart 4 (1939-40): 37-38.

3

Meière, “Working for a World’s Fair,” 40-41.