Charles Harrison View-master (model G) 1962

  • Not on view

A mass consumer device marketed as a toy, the original View-Master came with thin cardboard disks, or reels, containing stereoscopic pairs of small Kodachrome photographs that when viewed through the apparatus created the illusion of three-dimensional scenes. Invented, manufactured, and sold by Sawyer’s Photo Services in the United States (a company specializing in scenic postcards, slides, and slide projectors), the contraption debuted at the 1939 World’s Fair in New York.

In 1958 a young designer by the name of Charles “Chuck” Harrison redesigned the View-Master at the Chicago firm Robert Podall Associates. His Model F reduced the bulk of the batteries in earlier View-Masters. His Model G, produced from 1959 onward, abandoned the original Bakelite for injection-molded plastic, which allowed for a range of colors and designs that revolutionized the product’s market appeal. Reels depicting the 1964 World’s Fair in New York, the lights of the Las Vegas Strip, and even scenes from outer space further cemented the View-Master’s place in popular culture.

In 1961 Harrison joined the staff of the department-store chain Sears, Roebuck and Company, where he would remain for thirty-three years. He was the first black executive at the company’s headquarters and one of very few prominent professional designers of color at that time. Aside from the View-Master, Harrison’s products included lawn mowers and power tools, pots and stoves, and the very first plastic trash can.

Publication excerpt from MoMA Highlights: 375 Works from The Museum of Modern Art, New York (New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2019)
Manufacturer
Sawyer Manufacturing
Medium
Injection molded plastic
Dimensions
4 5/16 × 6 5/8 × 5 7/8" (10.9 × 16.8 × 15 cm)
Credit
Anonymous gift
Object number
960.2016.1-3
Department
Architecture and Design
Licensing

If you would like to reproduce an image of a work of art in MoMA’s collection, or an image of a MoMA publication or archival material (including installation views, checklists, and press releases), please contact Art Resource (publication in North America) or Scala Archives (publication in all other geographic locations).

MoMA licenses archival audio and select out of copyright film clips from our film collection. At this time, MoMA produced video cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. All requests to license archival audio or out of copyright film clips should be addressed to Scala Archives at [email protected]. Motion picture film stills cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. For access to motion picture film stills for research purposes, please contact the Film Study Center at [email protected]. For more information about film loans and our Circulating Film and Video Library, please visit https://www.moma.org/research-and-learning/circulating-film.

If you would like to reproduce text from a MoMA publication, please email [email protected]. If you would like to publish text from MoMA’s archival materials, please fill out this permission form and send to [email protected].

Feedback

This record is a work in progress. If you have additional information or spotted an error, please send feedback to [email protected].