Design: Back to the Lost Future

A remarkable show revives the machine age, fins and all

The Brooklyn Museum's entrance hall is a period room of the recently lost future, haunted by a peculiar American dream from the days when model-airplane kits were still mostly balsa. A 1929 high-wing monoplane, bravely lacquered in sky blue and wasp yellow, hangs from the ceiling, almost low enough for the grown visitor to touch its spats. Nearby sits the Chrysler Airflow -- not, alas, the classic 1934 model with the "waterfall" radiator, but still modernity on wheels, squinty windshield, fairings and all. Between them are such icons as the 1936 Sears-Roebuck Waterwitch outboard, offering its owner some whiff of the...

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