An exhibit at the Japanese American National Museum showcases the beloved 40-year-old British girl known as Hello Kitty
Last weekend I went with my wife and two daughters to the Hello! Exploring the Supercute World of Hello Kitty exhibition at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles. It's described as a "retrospective product-based, historical, and sociological examination of the Hello Kitty phenomenon with an art exhibition emphasizing her influence on contemporary art." It was outstanding. I took a bunch of photos. The photo above is a Hello Kitty germ mask.
Sanrio was founded in 1960 as the Yamanashi Silk Center Company. As the name suggests, it dealt in silk fabric. Along the way, they produced a rubber beach sandal. They learned that when they added a decorative element such as a flower or strawberry, people liked the sandals more. That's when the company stopped dealing in silk and focused on "decorated everyday objects." The coin=purse above was made in 1974 and marks the first appearance of Hello Kitty. At this time she did not have a name or back story. (Some people have pointed out that Hello Kitty resembles Ray Goosen's Musti (1945) and Dick Bruna's Miffy (1955).)
Hello Kitty is a cheerful and happy little girl with a heart of gold. She lives in London with her mama (Mary White), papa (George White), and her twin sister Mimmy. — SanrioTown
These are miniature items. I wish I could have held my hand next to them to give you an idea of how tiny they are, but it was behind glass.
Hello Kitty motor oil!
There was a wall of images showing how Hello Kitty's design has changed over the years. My wife, daughters, and I picked our favorite and least favorite designs. This one without an outline was my favorite, but my wife and daughters thought it was a low point in Hello Kitty design.
The museum commissioned artists to create Hello Kitty themed works of art.
Audrey Kawasaki's painting was one of my favorites.
Paul Frank's vinyl sculpture stole the show (for me anyway!)
Who could resist the purr of a Hello Kitty "massage wand?"
Who thought it was a good idea to license Hello Kitty to Playboy?
Hello Kitty, in league with the dark spirits.
Who thought it was a good idea to license Hello Kitty to Hooters???
Colin Christian's space fembot bid us farewell at the exit.
Hello! Exploring the Supercute World of Hello Kitty runs until April 26, 2015.