1893 WORLD’S COLUMBIAN EXPOSITION

MICRO EXHIBIT

In 2018, the Museum celebrated its 85th year since opening its doors in 1933, and 125 years since its building was originally built as a part of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition. To honor this rich history, Angela collaborated with the exhibit design team to create a pop-up mural exhibit using striking historic images to tell the story of the 1893 Exposition and explain MSI’s connection to this story. Angela researched each photo and the story behind each photo, and wrote all of the following panels for this exhibit.

 

INTRODUCTION TO EXHIBIT

Rising from the ashes of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, a group of innovators laid the groundwork for one of the most influential celebrations of all time.


The World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 was set to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s arrival to the Americas, and U.S. Congress was tasked with selecting the host city. Narrowly beating out New York City, Washington, D.C., and St. Louis, the fair was officially awarded to the city of Chicago in December of 1890. Rejoicing from the honor of its selection, Chicago quickly got to work on what would become the one most famous World’s Fair hosted in America.


As the director of works, well-known Chicago architect Daniel Burnham oversaw the design of the fair’s nearly 200 buildings, which famously featured Beaux-Arts and Neoclassical architectural styles. World-renowned landscape architect, Frederick Law Olmsted, designed the exposition’s 600 acres of parks, canals, lagoons and gardens. The hub of the excitement would be centrally located on the fairgrounds in the Court of Honor which featured glimmering, all-white buildings, earning the nickname the White City.


With little time and as a cost-cutting measure, the facades of these White City structures did not feature stone, but of a mixture of plaster, cement, and jute fiber called staff. The buildings were painted a sparkling white, which was amplified at night when the fair was lit by electricity.

Dedication ceremonies for the fair were held on October 21, 1892, but the exposition did not open to the public until May 1, 1893. By the time the fair ended on October 30, 1893, over 27 million people had attended.

 

EXHIBIT PANEL COPY

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©2020 by Angela Bradburn

Statue of the Republic

Prominently located at the eastern end of the Court of Honor facing the Administration Building, the Statue of the Republic was one of the most iconic statues of the fair. Designed by American artist, Daniel Chester French, this impressive sculpture towered over the fair at 65-feet tall. Constructed of plaster and covered in gold leaf, this statue unfortunately was destroyed in a fire after the fair in 1896. To commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Exposition in 1918, French was commissioned to construct a bronze, 24-foot reproduction of The Republic. This statue still proudly stands as a golden icon in Jackson Park, south of the lagoon.