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Volume 57 / Issue 1


Issue Cover

The Wonder of World’s Fairs

International Expositions and the Penn Museum

On the Cover: The right arm and torch of the Statue of Liberty were on view at the 1876 Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia. For 50 cents, visitors could climb to the top. Designed by Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi as a gift to the United States from the people of France, the complete statue was dedicated on Liberty Island in New York Harbor in 1886.

Photo courtesy of Historical Society of Pennsylvania

Preserving Cultural Heritage

From the Director

By: Julian Siggers

In recent years, the preservation of cultural heritage has moved to the forefront of archaeological and anthropological concerns. The need to manage and protect the archaeological record has become even more urgent as a result of conflict in places like Egypt, Syria, and Iraq. We realize how fragile the balance is and how important a […]

The Wonder of World’s Fairs

From the Editor

By: Jane Hickman

“…this is a World’s Fair and all the world is here, to exhibit and see.” From The Worlds Fair, 1891 In the passage above, H.G. Rutler describes what to expect at the World’s Columbian Exposition, also known as the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, where even a month would not be enough time to see all […]

All the World in One Place

Educating Visitors About the Changing World

By: Louise Krasniewicz

In 1876, the President of the United States, Ulysses S. Grant, and the reigning Emperor of Brazil, Dom Pedro II, turned cranks that set into motion the world’s largest steam engine at the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia. The Corliss engine— at 1400 horsepower and towering 40 feet over the heads of the opening ceremony crowds— […]

After the Fairs

World’s Fairs and the Development of Museums

By: Xiuqin Zhou

World’s fairs—also called exhibitions, expositions, or more recently expos— have had a great impact on the development of museums as institutions since the inaugural world’s fair 160 years ago. The first recognized world’s fair, the 1851 Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations in London, was directly responsible for the creation of […]

Gold Medals & Grand Prizes

World's Fairs and The Penn Museum

By: Alessandro Pezzati

The 1876 Centennial International Exposition in Philadelphia—the first world’s fair held in the United States—was an international success and demonstrated the rising prominence of the U.S. in the world. The intellectual fervor of the time eventually led to the founding of the Penn Museum in 1887, the first global institution at Penn. The Museum made […]

The People & Products of Colonization

Africa at the Chicago and Paris Expositions

By: Dwaune Latimer

Arican exhibits at world’s fairs— including both native peoples and the objects of their daily life— provided American and European visitors to fairs with an opportunity to see cultures vastly different from their own. Some ethnographic exhibits supported the idea of the “other,” providing evidence of diverse “exotic” groups that had their own distinct cultures. […]

Curiosities & Commodities

Oceanian Objects From Two World’s Fairs

By: Adria H. Katz

In the fall of 2003, the Oceanian Section of the Penn Museum acquired materials from New Caledonia and the Philippines that had been exhibited at two great world’s fairs: the Paris Exposition Universelle of 1900 and the St. Louis Louisiana Purchase Exposition of 1904. These objects came to us via the Philadelphia Commercial Museum, which, […]

Yupi Dazi

Fish-Skin Tartars of the Amur River Delta

By: William Wierzbowski

The Amur, or “great river,” is one of the longest in the world with its source deep in the interior of Asia. It empties into the Pacific Ocean in southeastern Siberia at the Sea of Okhotsk, which is north of the Japanese island of Hokkaido (home of the Ainu) and Sakhalin Island. A major ethnological […]

From Saqqara to St. Louis to Philadelphia

The Chapel of Kaipure

By: David P. Silverman

Having worked at the 1964 New York World’s Fair when I was a teenager, I thought that I knew a great deal about how things operated in such venues. Much later, I learned through my research at the Penn Museum, however, that, in addition to visiting exhibitions, tasting exotic foods, and buying souvenirs, one could […]

“…Very Best Inspirations of the Past”

The Wanamaker Bronzes

By: Ann Blair Brownlee and Lynn Makowsky

For more than 50 years, visitors to the Penn Museum have been welcomed by a large bronze classical statue, a copy of a work known as the Borghese Satyr, which stands near the reflecting pool in the Warden Garden. is striking figure—with the equine tail and ears characteristic of the part animal, part human mythological […]