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Columbian Exposition of 1893 dazzles new generations at Field Museum

In 1893, Chicago was the center of the universe as the Columbian Exposition of 1893 was drawing millions of people to our city.
October 22, 2013 3:27:58 PM PDT
One hundred and twenty years ago, Chicago was the center of the universe as the Columbian Exposition of 1893 was drawing millions of people to our city. Now, portions of that fair have come back to life at the Field Museum.

If you're more than 120 years old, you probably remember it. But if you're not, you'll just have to take the Field Museum's word for it. The Columbian Exposition of 1893 was unbelievably successful, with about 25 million people visiting the 650 acres of fun and information in Jackson Park.

"Can you imagine trying to see that all in one day. Or even a week. You could have spent an entire day inside one of the buildings and not see everything," said Mark Alvey, The Field Museum.

When the fair ended on October 30, 1893, over 50,000 items remained in Chicago and became the beginnings of The Field Museum. The Field opened its vaults for this exhibit and that's what you're looking at. It cost a hefty $0.50 to attend the fair and visitors sacrificed to attend.

"One guy, it's a very famous quote, said he would forgo their burial expenses. He said the money they had set aside for their own burial to come to the fair," said Alvey.

The exhibitors came here from around the world to show off their cultures, their wares, their discoveries, their inventions. And they came in unbelievable numbers.

"There were 65,000 exhibits at the World's Columbian Exposition and the number of individual items is almost impossible to count," said Christine Giannoni, librarian, Field Museum.

Perhaps the most intriguing part of this exhibit is how the museum took old photos from of their archives and animated them.

"They took these historic photos and animated them with staff members of the museum dressed in costume and set them to motion and brought them to life," said Isabelle Heyward, exhibition developer.

The exhibit opens Friday and runs until September.


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