New exhibition in the eMuseum: ‘In play and in earnest’

How historic poster advertising has depicted children through time

Oct. 4, 2021

The APG|SGA eMuseum brings the charm of historic poster gems from the Museum für Gestaltung Zürich back to life, presenting the pick of the form from the last century. The current virtual exhibition shows how the depiction of children has changed from generation to generation.

‘In tourist posters, for instance, children’s faces are often shown to suggest freshness and the joy of family life. On the other hand, the innocence and fragility of children are used to provoke an emotional response and catch the attention of adults in donation appeals. On posters for sweets and clothes, children appear as figures that the target audience can identify with,’ explains Nico Lazúla Baur, archivist in the Museum für Gestaltung Zürich’s poster collection.

The selection of motifs in the exhibition also illustrates the changing role of children in society. In historical depictions they’re in their own little world, absorbed in play and still dependent on adults, but on contemporary posters, they appear as independent personalities who can confidently look the viewer in the eye.

Virtual poster exhibition ‘In play and in earnest – the poster child’ and full interview with Nico Lazúla Baur at

Further information
Part of the Museum für Gestaltung Zürich’s poster collection is available to view in its online catalogue
Posters from the collection can also be ordered as reproductions for private use. 

Panorama of poster art 
The poster collection at the Museum für Gestaltung Zürich is one of the most important archives of its kind in the world. It contains around 350,000 objects, with about 120,000 digitally catalogued, all documenting the national and international history of the poster from its origins to the present day. From this pool, the APG|SGA eMuseum draws exhibits for its occasional virtual exhibitions, which have provided financial and cultural support for the museum for years now. The diversity of historical, thematic and geographic subjects results in both a panorama of poster art and a glimpse into a visual archive of day-to-day life. 

Image captions
1 Curator Bettina Richter (left) and archivist Nico Lazúla Baur in the Museum für Gestaltung Zürich poster collection archive.
2 Children’s faces in poster advertising – then and now.
3 Before the launch of the digital database, the museum used a card catalogue.