Out of the long decade of the 1920s and all of its turbulence emerged a modern, American society. The museum’s newest exhibit explores this decade, often noted for roaring fun, prosperity, and good feelings. Yet it was a decade couched between the horrors of World War I and the melancholia of the Great Depression. While consumerism was up, jazz was hot, and pop culture was all-consuming, beneath the surface of American society there was turbulence.
Prosperity was a veil Americans put on to impress their neighbors and the world, and to find contentment in self. The government took unprecedented steps to restrict its citizens’ rights and control certain populations. Men and women undermined the law with every drink they consumed at speakeasies. Widespread anti-immigrant attitudes, racial strife, and vigilante violence were indicators of deep fear and anxiety in American society.