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New York 1939 World's Fair: Johns-Manville Building

Flushing, NY

Entrance facade

Asbestos-the Magic Mineral, 1939

Commissioned by: Shreve, Lamb & HarmonMedium: metal reliefExecuted by: RambuschNonextant

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 Johns-Manville Building

Johns-Manville Building, main entrance filmed by Hildreth Meière, 1939. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC

Among Hildreth Meière’s commissions on the facades of four different buildings in various mediums at the 1939 Fair was her personification of Asbestos-the Magic Mineral in metal relief above the main entrance to the Johns-Manville Building.

Johns-Manville Building under construction

Johns-Manville Building under construction

Detail of Asbestos–the Magic Mineral on facade of Johns-Manville Building

Detail of Asbestos–the Magic Mineral on facade of Johns-Manville Building

At the time of the fair, asbestos was popular with the construction and manufacturing industries because it was “cheap, durable, flexible and naturally acted as an insulating and fireproofing agent.” Meière’s Art Deco-style rendering of Asbestos—the Magic Mineral as a male figure in an asbestos suit set against a background of flames related directly to her belief in the importance of a World’s Fair because it created “the opportunity for invention and experimentation from which progress results.”1

Unveiling of Asbestos-the Magic Mineral

Unveiling of Asbestos-the Magic Mineral

1

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