You’ve probably never considered it but someone had to invent the album cover. Early 78 rpm sets were sold as literal albums, 3-4 sleeves holding discs and bound together, wrapped by boring brown kraft paper. At Columbia Records in the late 1930s, a young man by the name of Alex Steinweiss had the brilliant idea to add designs to these covers in order to boost album sales, and his plan was wildly successful. Fortunately for posterity’s sake Mr. Steinweiss was an extremely witty and adroit designer, and you can now partake of examples of his remarkable skill in the display cases on the Ground Floor of MNL!
But hurry, the display will only be up through this Friday, September 9. “Alex Steinweiss: Inventor of the Album Cover” features an array of albums from the Marr Sound Archive that highlight the impact this remarkable designer had on an entire industry.
Stuart Hinds, Director of Special Collections, UMKC Libraries