Exhibits help expand the experience of world's fairs

'Inventing the Modern World: Decorative Arts at the World's Fairs, 1851-1939' is part of a local attraction


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World's fairs still attract crowds but, in an age of ubiquitous media, innovations no longer need to wait for a debut at such grand expositions, which dazzled visitors in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Carnegie Museum of Art drew from fair heydays for its current exhibition, "Inventing the Modern World: Decorative Arts at the World's Fairs, 1851-1939," and its galleries overflow with elegant objects. But the fairs always reached beyond art and design to technological and industrial invention.

When Carnegie curators researched their show, they discovered many connections to world's fairs at local museums and other sites throughout the region. The Carnegie published a brochure highlighting some of those discoveries, from robots to locally manufactured silk to the Ferris wheel. Some are shown in the photos above (mouse over the Ferris wheel photo and click on the arrows to see other pictures).

There also are world's fair displays at three other local sites but not included in the above photo display:

• The Andy Warhol Museum on the North Side exhibits fair memorabilia collected by the late artist, who was a world's fair fan, in "It Happened at the World's Fairs: Andy Warhol & World's Fairs," through Jan. 8. Information: www.warhol.org.

• Carnegie Mellon University's exhibit, "Pittsburgh Architects Design for the Fairs," comprises archival records related to Henry Hornbostel's Pennsylvania Building for the 1915 San Francisco fair and Edward B. Lee's Pittsburgh pavilion for the 1926 Philadelphia fair. The free exhibit continues through Feb. 24 in the Arts Library on the fourth floor of the Hunt Library on the Oakland campus.

• The University of Pittsburgh displays a rich array of journals, rare materials and photographs in a free exhibit titled "Eyes on the Future: World's Fairs Images in the Collections of the University Library System" through Feb. 24 in the Frick Fine Arts Library in the Frick Fine Arts Building and on the second floor of Hillman Library, both on the Oakland campus.

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Post-Gazette art critic Mary Thomas: mthomas@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1925.


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