Vintage Matchbooks Revive Tenderloin’s Lost History

by on December 4, 2018

New Book Release, Winter Gala at Tenderloin Museum

Join the Tenderloin Museum for the opening reception of our Matchbook Map Exhibit, featuring a searchable, interactive touchscreen map that connects matchbook imagery to historical info on the associated business and address, and links to information about the present day site. We’ll be presenting this new permanent exhibit in conjunction with a temporary exhibit, the Tenderloin Ephemera Exhibition, featuring historical Tenderloin ephemera from the 1920’s-1950’s — including bar signs, glassware, postcards, menus, matchbooks et al. These small, seemingly ordinary mementos beautifully encapsulate the Tenderloin’s colorful, vibrant past. Join us and travel back in time through the neighborhood’s material culture.

This event is part of The Match Book: Tenderloin Historical Ephemera Project a multi-faceted project that also encompasses the publication of The Match Book: Vintage Matchbooks from San Francisco’s Tenderloin, an artfully designed history book of the Tenderloin featuring the matchbooks of local businesses and cultural institutions.

Through the everyday act of picking up a matchbook and striking a match, one is transported to another place and time; the past is remembered through a pedestrian interaction with a tangible object. Matchbooks are emblems of local culture: accessible, utilitarian ephemera that functioned as the chosen form of advertising for small businesses in an era before plastic lighters and health concerns about smoking. These ritual objects exist at a fascinating intersection of material culture, local history, and design art; matchbooks (and other local business ephemera) are striking populist artifacts that serve as portals to places and people in a neighborhood’s past.

The Match Book: Tenderloin Historical Ephemera Project presents an illuminating new perspective on the Tenderloin’s often overlooked history, enriches the detail and depth of the neighborhood’s narrative, and encourages the Tenderloin community’s historical imagination. You can purchase the Tenderloin Museum’s Winter Gala tickets here.

You can RSVP to the event via Facebook

Katie Conry is the Director of the Tenderloin Museum

Filed under: Mid-Market / Tenderloin

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