Is this the best-known bottle in the world?
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A curvy drink bottle is celebrating its 100th birthday, and an art museum is exploring the origins and influence of a bottle design that's so recognizable, you'd probably know the brand if you held it in the dark.
"The Coca-Cola Bottle: An American Icon at 100" is set to run at Atlanta's High Museum through Oct. 4. Visitors can see original design illustrations, a prototype of the 1915 design and the work of artists who have been inspired by the now-classic design.
The soft drink company is headquartered in Atlanta.
"To do something that not only stays its course for the company over 100 years, but that also becomes a cultural icon that really is recognizable all over the world, is amazing," said High's head of museum interpretation and exhibition curator, Julia Forbes. "It really is a design success story."
The exhibition walks visitors through the history of the bottle's design, which was conceived as a way to distinguish the product from a multitude of imitators.
In a 1915 memo, the company asked glass companies to come up with "a bottle which a person could recognize even if they felt it in the dark, and so shaped that, even if broken, a person could tell at a glance what it was."
The Root Glass Company in Terre Haute, Indiana, developed the winning design in "Georgia Green" glass with a bulge in the center and ridges down the sides. The exhibition includes a concept sketch and patent for the contour bottle design, both dating from 1915. An original prototype bottle from 1915, one of only two known to exist, is also on display.
An entire gallery in the exhibition is devoted to the artist Andy Warhol. On one wall are two paintings of single Coca-Cola bottles inspired by old ads, one a bit abstract with smudgy lines and the other with lines so crisp and clean it doesn't even look like a painting. These works from 1961 and 1962 came at the beginning of Warhol's Pop art style using commercial images.
The exhibition concludes with a gallery of photos from the mid-1930s through the present. In some, the photographer is clearly using a Coca-Cola bottle or logo as art, while in others the bottle and logo just happen to be present.
The exhibition is a collaboration between the High and Coca-Cola, and kicks off a year-long celebration of the instantly recognizable bottle that will include advertisements highlighting its design in more than 140 countries.
Critical thinking challenge: The Coca-Cola Company is older than the Coca-Cola bottle. Why?