Collection Theme

Decorative Arts from the World's Fairs

From 1851 to 1939, countries from all over the globe participated in world’s fairs, which showcased technological achievements as well as traditional handcraftsmanship.

The influence of the fairs on cultural institutions cannot be overstated. Andrew Carnegie himself attended the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, which helped to crystallize his vision for a great museum in Pittsburgh.

Carnegie Museum of Art holds a significant collection of works exhibited at these international design emporia. Some objects celebrate and reinterpret long-forgotten processes and designs. Others reflect the Euro-American adaptation of materials, processes, and designs from Asia, the Middle East, and Africa that were introduced to the West through expanding cultural exchange and trade. Still more objects exemplify material innovations of their times, like electroforming (galvanoplastie) or papier-mâché.