Library Reading Room, Perelman Building
The Centennial Exhibition, or the International Exhibition of Arts, Manufactures and Products of the Soil and Mines (as it was formally known), was the first official world's fair to be held in the United States. It was a monumental undertaking that took ten years to plan and an act of Congress to establish. The six-month event opened on May 10, 1876, and drew 9,910,966 visitors to a 236 acre site in Philadelphia's Fairmount Park. The exhibition's goal was to celebrate the 100th anniversary of American independence, and it showcased the country's industrial and cultural achievements, with approximately two-thirds of its exhibition space devoted to American-sponsored displays. The Philadelphia Museum of Art was a legacy of the fair: the fine-arts pavilion reopened as Memorial Hall the following year and served as the Museum's first home. Given this legacy, several items featured here have been part of the Library's collections since 1877. However, some significant materials, such as the Bosbyshell scrapbook, were donated to the department as recently as 2008. These invaluable resources--including books, pamphlets, scrapbooks, and ephemera--document an extraordinary civic event as well as the broader aesthetic and manufacturing forces at work in the Victorian era, which drove considerable social and economic change both here and abroad. This installation complements , which will be on view in the Exhibition Gallery on the first floor of this building from July 24, 2010, to January 9, 2011.
Linda Martin-Schaff • Librarian for Technical ServicesSusan Anderson • The Martha Hamilton Morris Archivist