Color in a Can was shown on site at the Athenaeum of Philadelphia from January 15 - April 22, 2016. This web version provides additional information that was not included in the original exhibition, including installation views of the show. The 64 advertising signs from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in Color in a Can represent only a small portion of the historical paint research collection at the Athenaeum, built primarily by the efforts of former Athenaeum Executive Director Dr. Roger W. Moss, who is known for his extensive research and writing on the study of historic paint in America. Color in a Can documents the rise of pre-mixed house paints in standardized colors, sold in metal cans with resealable lids, that occurred in the U.S. after the Civil War. Some company names in the exhibition are still common today. For example, Pittsburgh Plate Glass is a currently operated company, while other companies have been bought out or gone out of business. The advertising also promotes asbestos and lead paints that we know to be dangerous today. Many of the items are graphically interesting, such as the Patton Paint Company's rotating wheel of sun-proof paint colors, made to be displayed in a paint store.
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