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Arts, Sports & Culture

Art of the World’s Fair Comes to Pittsburgh


 The Carnegie Museum of Art is opening a new exhibition this weekend highlighting the art of design that has been part of the World’s Fairs over the years.

Inventing the Modern World: Decorative Arts at the World's Fair, 1851-1939 includes more than 200 objects representing the advances in artistry exhibited during 88 years of the fair’s history.

Jason Busch, Chief Curator at the museum, said they want people to feel like their stepping back in time.

“The paint colors we’ve used, the designs of the exhibition furniture, the textile treatments, the photographic reproductions that are life-sized, to the vinyl reproductions of architecture; all are done as a way to provide a window back in time.”

Busch said the fair was originally organized with design in mind.

“It was with elevating design to the status of fine arts like paintings and sculpture,” said Busch. “And it was the vision of Prince Albert of England to open the doors of the United Kingdom to the nations of the world. And that really caught on.”

The exhibition opens Saturday with a design symposium featuring authors and curators in the field. He said many museums go out of their way to have special collections with World’s Fair artifacts.

This is the second stop for the exhibition. Busch said, of the 45 lenders to the collections, the Carnegie Museum of Art is the largest. After the show ends in February 2013, the collection will head to the New Orleans Museum of Art and then the Mint Museum in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Busch said the Carnegie museum benefitted greatly from the fairs. Many of the architectural and sculptural casts it is famous for came from buildings created for World’s Fairs.

“It’s an homage to our founder, Andrew Carnegie, who went to the World’s Fair in Chicago in 1893,” said Busch. “And that’s where the seed was sewn for starting Carnegie Museum of Art.”