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International World’s Fairs and Expositions

Masterpieces of the Centennial International Exhibition illustrated . . . Earl Shinn, Walter Smith and Joseph M. Wilson. Imprint: Philadelphia: Gebbie & Barrie, [1876-1878], p. cxlvi (vol. 3) ("Main Building – Central Avenue looking West").

International World’s Fairs and Expositions have been popular cultural events since the 1851 Crystal Palace Exhibition in London. The opportunity for visitors to see and experience new technologies, products, peoples, and ideas had a tremendous impact on the people who attended these world-wide events in Europe, North America, and Asia.

These fairs are of particular interest to Smithsonian researchers and to scholars from outside the Institution. They use the Libraries' World’s Fairs collection of original print editions or microfilm copies that include official reports by contributing organizations and government agencies or exhibition guides and maps given to visitors, to understand their impact on the modern world. Many of these unique publications came to the Smithsonian from people who had attended particular fairs or who collected literature from the many fairs that were held in the 19th, 20th and now 21st centuries.

The latest international fair, World Expo 2010, just opened in Shanghai, China. Should you or someone you know attend this latest world’s fair, please consider the Smithsonian Institution Libraries as a potential home for the published material that may be available at this newest World’s Fair.

—Chris Cottrill and Jim Roan

World's Fair links:

World's Fairs and Expositions Resources

World's Columbian Exposition of 1893

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