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Conservation of World’s Fair Pop-Up Books


World's Columbian Exposition Pop-Up Book
World’s Columbian Exposition Pop-Up Book Closed


A set of four pop up books from the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 were recently treated in the book conservation lab.  The books are part of the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum Library World’s Fair materials. The World’s Columbian Exposition took place in Chicago in 1893 and these four books reveal four different views of the exposition.  The four books were in good condition for pop-up books.  The chromolithographic prints are still vibrant and the paper supports, while brittle, are still in good condition.

Detached Supports
Detached Supports


Pop-up books tend to break at the hinges or moveable supports.   In the case of the World’s Columbian Exposition books many of the supports were detached and had to be re-attached.  In one case a support was causing damage to the chromolithographic print and it needed to be detached (the remaining supports were sufficient to support the book when opened.)


Misisng Flag
Missing Flag
Broken Tree Top
Broken Tree Top


Another common problem is that delicate pieces break off due to the movement of the book and the brittle nature of the paper. In the best case scenario the missing pieces are still housed with the book and can be located and re-attached.


Set of four views of the World's columbian Exposition
Set of four views of the World’s Columbian Exposition


Conservation consisted primarily of re-attaching broken supports using reversible wheat starch paste.  The detached pieces of the flag and tree tops were re-attached with wheat starch paste and Japanese paper. The books are back at the Cooper-Hewitt and ready to be enjoyed (carefully) by researchers.

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