JFK’s TWA Hotel will curate exhibitions of rare Jet Age artifacts and memorabilia

March 11, 2019

Image courtesy of MCR and Morse Development

Guests of the TWA Flight Center Hotel—set to open on May 15—will be able to experience the Jet Age through exhibitions of Trans World Airlines artifacts curated by the New-York Historical Society. Flight attendant’s logs, vintage furniture from TWA headquarters, in-flight amenities—like gilded playing cards and custom matchbooks—are some of the types of objects that will be on view in a rotating series of exhibitions dedicated to the former TWA terminal, a historic landmark designed by Finnish architect Eero Saarinen and opened in 1962.

MCR and MORSE Development has been restoring Saarinen’s masterpiece for the past two years, during which they received over 2,000 artifacts, mostly through donations from former TWA employees and their families. The developers hired an archivist to catalog each item and partnered with the New-York Historical Society to develop the exhibitions. The team’s research has taken 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 original blueprints of the TWA terminal. “In just a few months, people will not only fill this landmark again, but also take away a greater appreciation of where it all began,” said Tyler Morse, CEO and Managing Partner of MCR and MORSE Development.

Evolving exhibitions will initially focus on two major themes: Trans World Airlines’ history (including eccentric billionaire Howard Hughes’ tenure as the airline’s owner) and Saarinen’s development of the terminal at JFK. Future exhibits will delve into the dawn of the Jet Age in New York City, as well as the midcentury modern design movement.

Image courtesy of MCR and Morse Development; Photo: Max Touhey

“The Saarinen terminal is a monument to the optimism and vision of the Jet Age,” said Mike Thornton, a curator for the New-York Historical Society who is working on the project. “These exhibitions invite people into the glamour and fun that Saarinen and TWA worked so hard to create and foster.


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