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Opens April 24

Cast in Chrome: The Art of Hood Ornaments

Over the history of motoring, hood ornaments evolved from the practical (externally mounted radiator caps) to the purely decorative. Today only a few luxury brands continue the tradition. Why were hood ornaments so popular and what led to their demise? Cast in Chrome at the Frick Car and Carriage Museum will take a look at the evolution of these decorative automobile elements. What began as a means to monitor radiator temperature became a way of displaying status and personalizing vehicles. The popularity of these adornments was not lost on manufacturers, who saw an opportunity for branding, creating factory hood ornaments associated with specific makes and models. Cast in Chrome explores the relationship between car makes and hood ornament designs, looks at the artists who sculpted these miniature works of art, and examines their decline in popularity.

The exhibition will be organized thematically, with sections devoted to the female figure, animals, mythology, art-deco-inspired motifs, and the great space race—when airplanes and rockets made their way onto hoods. Each theme will be accompanied by a featured automobile marque from the 1920s or 1930s, a selection of illustrative hood ornaments, and clothing from the period. This special exhibition features the famous Spirt of Ecstasy, the well-known mascot of Rolls-Royce, represented by the Frick’s 1923 Rolls Royce Silver Ghost Salamanca town car. Also included is Helen Clay Frick’s 1931 Lincoln Model K Dual Cowl Phaeton with greyhound ornament. Four additional cars will be on loan to the Frick, along with about 30 additional hood ornaments.
Program Information

Cast in Chrome: The Art of Hood Ornaments

Dates: April 24, 2021 - October 31, 2021
Location: Car and Carriage Museum
Free, timed tickets are required for entry to the exhibition, opening April 24.

Reserve tickets

Member preview day

Virtual gallery talks
Cast in Chrome is organized by Kim Cady, Assistant Curator, Car and Carriage Museum.

Major exhibition program support is provided by the Richard King Mellon Foundation.

This exhibition is also supported in part by: 
Mary Louise and Chip Babst
Elizabeth Barker
Robin J. Bernstein
Barbara and David Burstin
Hartwood Association of Racing Drivers
Judy Horgan and Steve Pavsner
Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix
Robert M. Hernandez and Karen L. Blumen
Kirk J. Johnson and Henry W. Krakovsky, Jr.
The Linaburg Foundation
In honor of Rita and Jim Regino from Sheryl Wolf
Sheryl K. and Bruce M. Wolf Family Foundation

Sponsor an Object

Exhibition Programs

Members-only Preview of <em>Cast in Chrome: The Art of Hood Ornaments</em>
Car and Carriage Museum
04/23/2021 10:00 AM
Members-only Preview of Cast in Chrome: The Art of Hood Ornaments
Be among the first to experience the exhibition.
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Members-only Virtual Gallery Talks: <i>Cast in Chrome</i>
04/26/2021 10:00 AM
Members-only Virtual Gallery Talks: Cast in Chrome
Join us online for special insight into the exhibition.
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Curating Chrome: A Virtual Tour with the Curator
05/12/2021 7:00 PM
Curating Chrome: A Virtual Tour with the Curator
Join Kim Cady, Assistant Curator for the Car and Carriage Museum, as she explores the themes and sto...
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