'Centuries of Progress: American World's Fairs, 1853-1984' exhibit opens June 12 at LSU

Photo provided by LSU Media Relations
Sunday, May 19, 2013 - 10:00pm

The LSU Student Union Art Advisory Committee is proud to announce the exhibit ‘Centuries of Progress: American World’s Fairs, 1853-1984.’ The upcoming show will be on display in the LSU Union Art Gallery June 12 through July 28 and will present a remarkable overview of more than a century of American World’s Fairs.

What do the telephone, the Ferris wheel, a 28,000-pound typewriter, and nylon stockings have in common? They were just a few of the thousands of products, curiosities, and inventions that made their debut at one of 17 international festivals on American soil. Visitors will enjoy over 130 objects, photographs, and ephemera that detail progress, promotion, and public response. Beginning with the 1853 Crystal Palace exhibition in New York through the 1984 Louisiana World’s Fair in New Orleans, Louisiana, World’s Fairs have emphasized the technological, cultural, and political advances that form the American society that we enjoy today.

History of the fairs is related through six thematic categories: ‘Progress as a Way of Life’ introduces the rationale for the creation of World’s Fairs. ‘Marketplace of Ideas’ demonstrates the immense opportunity manufacturers had to market new technologies, while ‘Consumerism’ depicts fair-goers as an eager audience for innovative goods, from Juicy Fruit to Wonder Bread and Dr. Pepper. ‘Art, Architecture, and Music’ and ‘Popular Amusements’ illustrate the vast entertainment options available to fair-goers, from colossal buildings and sculptures to carnival rides and exhibitions of “exotic” lands and cultures. Finally, ‘Remembering the Fair’ includes souvenirs and commemorative items. After all, who could go home empty-handed after experiencing the wonders of a World’s Fair?

The exhibition is organized by the Hagley Museum and Library in Wilmington, Delaware, and is toured by ExhibitsUSA, a national program of Mid-America Arts Alliance and The National Endowment for the Arts

The LSU Union Art Gallery’s hours are Monday through Friday, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and Sunday from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. The exhibit and programs are free and open to the public.


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