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Saturday, April 7, 2012

World’s fair exhibit at Nelson opens Saturday
By ALICE THORSON
The Kansas City Star
By ALICE THORSON The Kansas
City Star
Updated: 2012-04-07

World’s fair exhibit at Nelson opens Saturday Sweet Emotions: Lady Antebellum and Darius Rucker collaborate at Sprint Center Jennifer Love Hewitt plays against type in ‘The Client List’ Arts advocate meets KC leaders Tim Finn | Ink’s Map Fest launches at RecordBar More music, a forum and films grow Ink’s Map Fest FilmFest promotes indie spirit ‘American Reunion’ eats humble ‘Pie’ | 2 ½ stars Q&A with Hillary Scott of Lady Antebellum First Friday offers early taste of summer My Likes | Kate Donohue ‘American Reunion’ seeks a bigger piece of ‘Pie’ This week in KC: Aquarium opening, Sporting KC, Easter parade ABC Cafe serves delicious, authentic Cantonese fare Troupe reaches back to vaudeville, burlesque for follies at the Folly Frank Basile has had a long love affair with the baritone sax Stargazing | A very Bond Olympics and a pocketbook apology New audio releases | Lionel Richie sails into country with ‘Tuskegee’ Digital movie delivery changes industry with each remote click New on DVD | ‘We Bought a Zoo,’ ‘War Horse’, ‘Chasing Madoff’ In a city that has never had a world’s fair, a new show at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art offers a splendid substitute.
“Inventing the Modern World: Decorative Arts at the World’s Fairs, 1851-1939” is a parade of greatest hits from almost a century’s worth of fairs, presented in an environment designed to give a “you are there” feeling.
The museum has been preparing for this show for months, and beginning Saturday visitors can enjoy beautiful objects, flashy presentation pieces and technological innovations — all the things that made a world’s fair visit an experience of a lifetime.
Besides introducing popular products and amusements like the zipper, the Ferris wheel and the ice cream cone, the world’s fairs offered an opportunity for nations to polish their images before the world. The fairs were the place for countries to show off their creativity and innovation, art and industry.
“This whole exhibition is about marketing,” says curator Catherine Futter, who organized the exhibit with Jason T. Busch of the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh.
The two start things off with a bang in the form of a huge, gleaming silver vase that exemplifies the tour de force technical accomplishment that was a specialty of the fairs.
Designed by Henry Hugh Armstead for C.F. Hancock & Sons, it’s called the Tennyson vase for its vivid scenes of Arthur and Guinevere, Lancelot and Merlin from the poems of Alfred, Lord Tennyson. Exquisitely detailed down to the texture of the chain mail worn by the knights of the roundtable, it was hailed at the time as an “admirable work” that “upheld the renown of England” in the 1867 Paris Universal Exposition.
National pride was a big driver of what countries exhibited at the fairs, and it seems no accident that the Norwegians chose to sail a reconstructed Viking ship to the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, a fair held to celebrate the arrival of Columbus in 1492. The Norwegian display also included a silver centerpiece in the shape of a Viking ship by the Oslo-based silver firm David-Andersen.


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