Long before the Internet, TED Conferences, and South by Southwest, new ideas and innovations were introduced at the World’s Fairs. Countries, companies and individuals participated in order to learn from one another, fan the flame of customer demand and move the needle of progress forward. The World’s Fairs exhibit at the Kansas City Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art provides the back story on these events, which shaped the modern world.
Innovation in science and technology: Innovative manufacturing technologies and materials, such as plastic, synthetic rubber, poloyester and Plexiglas were showcased at the World’s Fairs.
Cross-cultural influences: As one example of this, Prince Albert pushed for London to host the 1851 World’s Fair because he wanted to raise the level of design in his country by exposing artisans to the work of other countries. For example, British manufacturers were inspired by Indian metal work and textiles, which is reflected in this vase.
National pride: Finland was trying to break away from Russia at the turn of the century so the pieces the country entered in the 1902 World’s Fair in Turin features Finnish motifs.
History: Many objects presented at the World’s Fairs used the modern manufacturing techniques of the time paired with classical designs of another era.