Hamburger Heaven patrons in the 1930s had no idea that they were eating off plates that one day would be considered art. Decades later, what was once standard equipment at local diners is part of a nostalgic exhibit at Rancho Santa Margarita Library.
"Signs of Our Times: The Art of Popular American Culture" was put together by Carolyn Gregory of the facility's Friends of the Library group.
The exhibit features restaurant china, advertising signs, toys, radios and other items that give a glimpse of popular culture from the '30s to the '60s.
"We wanted to bring museum-quality art to local residents who don't necessarily go to Los Angeles," said Gregory, who has a degree in art history from Cal State Fullerton. "We thought we'd bring the museum to the people."
Some of the largest items in the collection are porcelain-coated metal signs advertising products ranging from Coca-Cola to Texaco motor oil.
"When I came in here, they did catch my eye," said library patron Ric Starnes, 44, of Rancho Santa Margarita. "It kind of brings me back to my childhood years. They reminded me of when I used to sit at a corner store drinking soda pop with my grandfather in this little tiny town in Louisiana."
Pointing to a row of small metal signs that doubled as thermometers, Gregory said the exhibit "defines what we were all about.
"People don't realize that what is around us every day is art. Our culture is defined by art," she said.
The Americana exhibit will be at the library, 30902 La Promesa, through May. Information: (714) 459-6094.