Pictures from an Exposition: Visualizing the 1893 World's Fair | Newberry

Pictures from an Exposition: Visualizing the 1893 World's Fair

Chromolithograph poster showing the Ferris Wheel, which debuted at the 1893 World’s Fair.

Friday, September 28, 2018Monday, December 31, 2018

Roger J. Trienens Galleries

Free and open to the public
Open to the Public

Pictures from an Exposition will be open December 24, closed December 25, and open regular gallery hours December 26 - 31.

As the grandest international spectacle in a great age of spectacles, the World’s Columbian Exposition held in Chicago in 1893 captured the public’s imagination through a dazzling array of visual images, from photographs, paintings, and illustrated albums to souvenirs, guidebooks, magazine features, and popular histories. But the allure of the fair depended less on the aesthetics of single objects than upon its status as a total, unified work of art.

Featuring works of art and ephemera from the Newberry’s extensive collection of exposition materials, Pictures from an Exposition explores the fair’s tremendous power of attraction, both at the time of its presentation and through history into the present, for both those who attended and those who experienced it from afar. Opening during the exposition’s 125th anniversary year, the exhibition will pay special attention to the dynamic between fine art and popular imagery, the intertwining of aesthetic and economic imperatives, and the ways in which the exposition’s visual language reflected the important role that images played in late 19th century American history and culture.

  • This item is from the collection of Edward C. Hirschland

Pictures from an Exposition is curated by Diane Dillon, the Newberry’s Director of Exhibitions and Major Projects.

This program is part of Art Design Chicago, an exploration of Chicago’s art and design legacy, an initiative of the Terra Foundation for American Art with presenting partner The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation.

Your generosity is vital in keeping the library’s programs, exhibitions, and reading rooms free and accessible to everyone. Make a donation today.

Curator-Led Tours

Free, curator-led tours of the exhibition will be offered on the following dates:

  • Wednesday, October 3, 4 pm
  • Saturday, November 3, 11:30 am
  • Tuesday, December 11, 6 pm

The tour groups will gather in the lobby and then move in to the galleries.

Guided small group tours will not be available for this exhibition. Groups are welcome to visit the galleries on their own.

Cost and Registration Information 

Free and open to the public.