New poster exhibit documents urgency and complexity of HIV/AIDS messaging: NewsCenter



March 14, 2022


“Up Against the Wall: Art, Activism, and the AIDS Poster” is on display at the Memorial Art Gallery through June 19. (Photo by University of Rochester/J. Adam Fenster)


The University’s first major AIDS education poster exhibition highlights the role of poster art during the global epidemic.

Encourages reflection. Mythbusters. Visually striking. Painfully dull.

However you describe it, the new exhibition presented by the Memorial Art Gallery (MAG) and the River Campus Libraries (RCL) at the University of Rochester captures the creative efforts made to prevent and mitigate tragedy and destruction. caused by the HIV/AIDS epidemic. .

Against the Wall: Arts, Activism and AIDS Poster is the first major exhibition of the University’s AIDS Education Poster Collection, donated by Edward C. Atwater ʼ50 in 2007. Housed in the Department of Rare Books, Special Collections and Preservation, the collection contains over 8,000 posters from around the world, making it one of the largest of its kind in the world.

With 165 posters, Against the wall illustrates the range of strategies that public health and advocacy groups have adopted to inform and influence people to protect themselves and others from the deadly virus. The exhibition is divided into two sections: ‘Raising Awareness’, posters that inform and target myths and misinformation, and ‘Acting Up’, posters that advocate personal responsibility and aim to inspire safe behavior.

Against the wall is on view until June 19.

HIV/AIDS posters displayed on black, pink and yellow walls.

TAKE NOTE: From 1982 to the present, the exhibition’s 165 posters show how social, religious, civic, activist, medical and philanthropic organizations have approached the complex, controversial and often contested terrain of the global HIV/AIDS epidemic in the field. public. . (Photo University of Rochester/J. Adam Fenster)


Learn more about the collection, exhibition and related events

Edward Atwater with his arms crossed and AIDS posters on a table behind him.The Collector

Meet collector, physician, and medical historian Edward C. Atwater ʼ50 (1926–2019), professor emeritus of medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center who donated the AIDS Education Posters collection.

Reading Aids

To extend the life of Against the Wall: Art, Activism and AIDS Poster beyond its physical exhibition at the Memorial Art Gallery, a book of the same name has been created.


Key words: events, featured article, Memorial Art Gallery, performing arts, River Campus Libraries

Category: Highlighted

Sharon D. Cole