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First Seen at the Fair: Novelties from Universal Expositions, 1851-1915

Saturday, April 7, 2018 through Sunday, July 29, 2018

Art History University City & West Philly

This exhibition will be the culmination of a curatorial seminar on novelties and curiosities first displayed at the nineteenth and early twentieth century’s world fairs. Such events chronicled the period’s innovations in art, technology, and science. Many of the most crucial inventions were first shown to the public at world fairs: electricity, the telephone, and the bicycle, among other innovative artistic techniques and everyday objects. The exhibition will bring together such novelties from the universal expositions—like early sets of multi-ethnic dolls premiered in 1889, so-called “photo-sculptures” first executed at the 1867 Paris exhibition, fashionable goods with world-fair themes, and other innovations in material and visual culture of the period—stemming from local Philadelphia collections.

Curatorial Seminar taught and curated by André Dombrowski, Associate Professor of History of Art, University of Pennsylvania

André Dombrowski joined the faculty at UPenn in 2008. He received his Ph.D. from UC Berkeley in 2006, and holds an M.A. from the University of Hamburg and another from London’s Courtauld Institute of Art. He taught at Smith College from 2005 to 2008. A predoctoral fellow at CASVA, a DAAD fellow, a recipient of a two-year fellowship from the Gerda Henkel Stiftung in Düsseldorf, Professor Dombrowski was awarded a J. Paul Getty Postdoctoral Fellowship for 2008-09 and membership in the School of Historical Studies, Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton for 2012-13.


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Venue Information

Arthur Ross Gallery at the University of Pennsylvania
220 South 34th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
215-898-2083 phone

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The Water Works behind the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Photo by Erin DiSerafino.