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Authentic TWA uniforms — Balmain, Valentino, Stan Herman — are on display. (TWA Hotel/David Mitchell)
TWA Hotel Uniforms

Museum Exhibits

The New-York Historical Society curated exhibitions celebrating TWA's history.

A flight attendant’s log detailing five years of airborne adventures. Vintage furniture from the TWA headquarters. In-flight amenities — gilded playing cards, silver serving ware — from a more elegant era. These are just some of the items showcased at the TWA Hotel. The New-York Historical Society — founded in 1804 as New York’s first museum — curated the exhibitions, which are free of charge and always open to the public.

Located in various spots throughout the former TWA terminal — the heart of our hotel — as well as in our event center and in the areas that connect our hotel flight tubes to JetBlue's Terminal 5, the exhibits allow visitors to experience the Jet Age through authentic artifacts, interactive displays and personal narratives.

 TWA Museum Amenities
Graphic matchbooks, gilded playing cards, custom tableware and a martini-in-a-bottle represent just a few of TWA’s in-flight offerings.

In the years before the TWA Hotel opened, MCR/MORSE Development collected more than 2,000 artifacts that trace the TWA story for future exhibitions. Most of the items were donated by former TWA employees and their families.

 TWA Museum Kids
Tin toys, a magic board along with official junior hostess and pilot pins, provided entertainment for kids.

MCR/MORSE hired an archivist to catalog and preserve each item and partnered with the New-York Historical Society to develop the exhibitions. The team’s research took them from Kansas City — home of the TWA Museum — to Yale University’s Saarinen archives to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which donated blueprints of the TWA terminal.

 TWA Hotel
Former TWA employees and their families donated many personal items, including photos, letters and even an autograph given to a flight attendant by passenger Kirk Douglas.

Exhibitions focus on TWA’s history — including Howard Hughes’ tenure as owner and TWA's uniforms from 1945 to 2001 — and Saarinen’s development of the terminal at Idlewild Airport (as JFK was formerly known).

 TWA Museum Posters
David Klein’s travel posters for TWA in the 1950s and 60s epitomized the Jet Age.

Visitors can explore 37 full TWA uniforms, original TWA travel posters by David Klein, vintage furniture and large-scale TWA artifacts (a luggage tug!). Future exhibits will delve into the dawn of the Jet Age in NYC and the midcentury modern design movement.

 New-York Historical Society Museum & Library Logo

The terminal is the perfect place for visitors to discover more about aviation history, says Mike Thornton, a curator for the New-York Historical Society: “The Saarinen terminal is a monument to the optimism and vision of the Jet Age. These exhibitions invite people into the glamour and fun that Saarinen and TWA worked so hard to create and foster.”

Collection by the Numbers

2,366
Total artifacts accessioned
641
Uniform pieces (pilot’s hats, serving smocks and more)
338
Dining service items from chopsticks to gravy boats
247
In-flight amenities
64
Complete uniforms from 1945 to 2001
62
David Klein travel posters
39
In-flight menus
18
Children's activities
8
Plane models and toys

For information on donating items to the TWA museum exhibitions, email [email protected]twahotel.com

 

 TWA Hotel Exhibition Team

Curator: New-York Historical Society

Creative Director: Tara Romeo

Exhibition Designer: Esposito Design Studio, LLC

TWA Hotel Collection Archivist: Erica Hornung

Graphic Designer: Victor Thompson

Writer: Mary Kate Frank

Textile Conservator: J. Leia Lima Baum

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Scroll through photo galleries of the TWA Flight Center, hotel amenities, guestrooms, event spaces and museum exhibitions.

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