The Pan-American Exposition at Buffalo
The Delineator Magazine, August 1901
We have spoken before of the fortunate situation of the Exposition, which gains so much from its proximity to the established beauties of Lincoln Park. Yet the grounds themselves since the first day of May - for the flowers were ready for opening day have been a constant panorama of changing bloom. No flower has ever been held in higher regard than the tulip, and one doubts if Holland herself could have shown a richer or more gorgeous show of these blossoms than have been gathered here. To sit on the piazza of the Woman's Building and see bed after bed of these flowers waving in the sunlight was a perfect delight.
In the Mall the walks are bordered by orange trees growing in tubs, and you may fondly imagine yourself wandering in some of the palace gardens of the Old World. In additiin to the garden plants, one may wonder and admire at the lilies and water plants growing in the little lakes and bays.
In seeking the cool and shaded interior of the buildings it is hard to say which is the most interesting. If we should have a preference, it is perhaps the Government buildings, to which we return the oftenest. The exterior, from the gilded quadriga on the dome of the central building to the rich flower beds which lead up to the main entrance, is so dignified and inspiring that one looks upon its fine proportions with pride. The interior is bright with red and white, and standards of gay banners.
It is in this building that we become fully aware of the degree of civilization arrived at by some of the new possessions of the United States. There are many weapons captured in the Philippines, from a primitive bamboo cannon bound with withes to make it stronger, to a breech-loading gun captured at Death's Valley, and a Nordenfeldt machine-gun, also captured in the island of Luzon. But there is a curious contrast between the machine-gun and the pair of solid wooden wheels it is mounted on.
It is not these sad symbols of war which detain us long, but the beautiful stuffs and embroideries which come from these Islands. The most exquisite gauzes, delicate as a spider's web, colored in pale pinks and blues; men's shirts made of brilliant colored material and heavilv embroidered; Jusi cloth, Pina cloth, fine and sheer and rich with embroidery, while samples of embroidery done in raised ribbonwork show that we have something to learn of them. There is also a very creditable exhibit of work done in the public schools. There is a wooden loom, very primitive winders, and other manufacturing implements. On the other hand the musical instruments, harps, cellos and violins made and used by Tagals on Luzon Island are marvels of beauty and finish. There is in immense exhibit of Manila ropes and hammocks, and a collection of photographs showing home life in the Islands will be a great surprise to many.
The Smithsonian and United States National Museum present exhibits which will claim many hours of one's tiine. In great glass cases are life-sized figures of various inhabitants of the country, showing the type of face, dress and household belongings. For instance, the Esquimo, clothed and armed, stands before you ready for the chase. The Indian groups are very artistic and lifelike, and we see the aborigine dressed in skins, bearing his simple weapons with a dignity we have long ceased to associate with him. The spotted Indian pony is there, too, and examples of bead-work, pottery and many fine furs. There is a showing not only of the nomadic Indian but also of those that lived in pueblos or communities. They are of quite a different type from those with which most of us are familiar, are tall and sad looking, clothed in dark blue, with scarlet girdles and their long hair braided. Their dwellings were entered through the roofs (there are models of these), and they had temples decorated with uncouth gods. The California Indians are dressed in furs, with grass helmets and necklaces of shells. Antique and modern pottery is shown, and the ornaments made and worn by the South American Indians, consisting of feathers, beads, small bones and claws. These Indians also made those gorgeous feather robes, into each one of which went thousands of skins of gay birds, yellow and red, and which are so soft and beaufully sewed that it is as pliable as velvet. These Indians, curiously enough, number among their weapons great two-handed swords. They were men of great stature and powerful build, and such a weapon in such hands must have been as mighty as a sword of similar make when wielded by Richard the Lion-Hearted. Some of the bands and belts of bead or quill work are wonderfully beautiful and monuments of labor. Pass across an aisle a few feet in width and see the Indian's handiwork since he became the ward of the Nation.
Here are the exhibits made by the pupils of the Carlisle Indian school. Heavy harnesses for Government work at Indian agencies, and for whch the school receives regular contract prices. Uniforms, wagons, children's clothes, sofa pillows and embroideries, these latter made by the deft brown fingers of the Indian girls, who rejoice in such names as "Nellie He Dog," "Jennie Iced Leaf," etc. After seeing these spirits of the wild wood tamed and working in harness, one wants to go back and look at the exhibits of the Indian when he slung a stone or shot an arrow, and covered himself with the skins of marten and fox, and wore proudly as a badge of authority an eagle's quill or a fox's brush. The saying "all mankind loves a lover," might well be changed into "loves a sailor," for there has always been a soft spot in everybody's heart for Jacky from the days of "Admiral Noah" down.
In the naval exhibit we may see how well the enlisted sailors live; there are samples of their food from raisins and prunes for plumduff to salt pork and hard tack. Then there are models of the slips of the Navy, each in its own case, including the Holland torpedo boat and the beautiful hospital ship "Solace." The old ships that won glory in well-fought encounters are not forgotten, and there is a model of the historic “Kearsarge," launched in 1861, that three years later same the "Alabama," and whose ribs now lie in the Caribbean sea. The model of the new " Kearsarge," launched in 1898, is there, too, and the old wooden corvette would scarcely recognize as a descendant the trim ship that bears her name.
One of the most amusing exhibits shown Post-Office Department. Here is poor old " Owney," the traveling dog belonging to the postal clerks, his mounted skin being covered with a portion of the many medals lie gained in a long and checkered life. Then the cases of objects which have wound up in the Dead-Letter Office are an awful warning. Wedding-cake, insect-powder bellows, razors, love letters, snakes, bones and locks of hair are only a few of the many objects which have been sent on their wandering way with insufficient postage or imperfect addresses.
Postage stamp collectors will be made envious by the numbers shown here, and there are several groups of the mounted mail carriers in the West, and the uniforms of postmen in different countries. Interesting and pathetic is a large collection of photographs received at the Dead Letter Office during the War of 1861-65. Some have already been identified by relatives and removed.
The uniforms of the Navy, from an admiral down, are effectively shown in a group standing on a ship's deck. Lieutenant Hobson has been detailed for service at Buffalo this Summer on behalf of the Navv, and Captain Munson, U.S.A., recently returned from the Philippines, represents the medical department of the Army. Under his charge is a model field hospital with a detachment of thirty soldiers, who demonstrate daily the transportation and care of wounded is that of the on the firing line and field hospital. This exhibit and the work of the life-saving crew on the lake are worth one visit at least and more if there is time at command.
As you enter the building of Machinery and Transportation, even though it be a day of lowering clouds, the effect within is all sunshine. Much attention is being paid nowadays to the effect of color on the mind and spirits, and it is generally agreed that black and blue have a depressing effect on the mentality, while gay colors have the reverse. Certainly this great building is bright enough to cheer the dullest; floods of yellow pour down from the roof, caught up and diversified with umbrella-like devices of red, blue and green.
As for the exhibits, one gazes with wonder in nailing devices which seem almost human. Then such tools! Saws toothed like the jaws of some curious mythological monster. Engines of every description, the action of each one accompanied with more or less noise.
Then as to transportation, where shall one begin? Perhaps the most attractive vehicle is a little three-wheeled gasoline runabout, hardly larger than a big tricycle, but a marvel of comfort and speed. If one has a prejudice against gasoline one may choose anything from a huge stage to an easy carriage, and have the motive power electricity.
As we lunch we may listen to the band, and then stroll into the Stadium, one of the unique features of the Exposition. This is a great open-air arena with an oval track measuring half a mile, and the seats which rise tier upon tier can seat comfortably twelve thousand people. It was in an arena resembling this that Nero watched the slaughter of Christians and where the gladiators contended, the cruel Roman women turning down their thumbs to signify that the victory should show no mercy. Here the sports are all peaceful, though judging from the shouts which rise up from eager audiences quite as interesting as Olympian games; in fact, there is to be a showing of these games, and the Marathon race is one of the most exciting.
They have utilized the basement of the Stadium for exhibiting many wagons and agricultural machines. Very peaceful occupants of the place where in ancient arenas were kept the wild beasts and the Christians. Almost opposite the Stadium is a charming repetition of an old Spanish mission house. Here in arches in the walls hang the bells to call the faithful to prayer. You enter through the low arched doorway into a court with a fountain and growing plants, and in this cool retreat you can almost bend your car to hear the chant of the priests at even-song.
Across the way from this bit of long ago, is the very up-to-date building representing Canada. It has a cupola and pretty English-looking windows and, like most of the other State buildings, presents a pleasing variety of style. Cuba has a particularly handsome building, dignified and ample with domes and wings, and close beside it Chili has put her severely regular pile. Artistic indeed is the Forestry building, made of logs and quite unique in its shape, while near it shows the stockade of the Six Nations, the burnt points of the poles presenting a truly savage appearance. Oregon was modest about her exhibits. She said she had little to show in the way of manufactures, and many of the other Western States showed grain, but she would send some of her "logs" and minerals. She did send a log. There is one giant seventy-four feet long by thirty-four inches square at the base, and this specimen is pathetically labeled in the words of the song, “Put me off at Buffalo."
When we are in the Agricultural Building we think our wealth and prosperity lies chiefly in our grains and corn. But enter the Horticultural Building and see what we can show in fruits, fresh and dried. California has used thousands of oranges to decorate her booth in a broad band of gold, while lemons and grape fruit show how the culture is improving and extending. Nuts, raisins and prunes, in various ornamental devices, go to make up one of the handsomest exhibits prepared by any State.
For those interested in the sea there are exhibits of boats propelled by man or animal power. For the true sailor who counts a breeze the only proper method of progression, there is every style of vessel moved by sails. For the yachtsman who would be ever on the move there are vessels propelled by steam, and for him who wants the newest there are electrical ships. There are also models and exhibits of the dangerous but delightful contrivances known as ice-boats. If your fancy should lead you to encounter Arctic cold in search of gold, you may study at your leisure the newest sledge for hauling your pack over the frozen snow. You may quite reduce your temperature by looking at the outfit necessary for such a trip, and if this is not enough there is an exhibit of "burial appliances."
The most serious misfortune which has befallen the Exposition is the failure, owing to labor troubles, to have the Albright Art Building completed. The situation of this building is almost ideal, on a rising knoll overlooking the lake. It is built of white marble, with many columns, and it will be a notable addition to the beauties of Lincoln Park.
The brick building which has been hastily erected as a substitute for this noble gallery makes no pretensions to style or beauty. It is low and rectangular, its only merits being that it is admirably lighted and a safe repository for the valuable collection exhibited there. In the last ten years, say since the Chicago Exposition, art has made giant strides in America, and we see at last the beginnings of a national school of art, including both painting and sculpture. We are sometimes twitted with the fact that our strongest painters by long residence in Europe have become denationalized; yet it is conceded that those who have lived longest abroad, like Mr. Whistler, Mr. Sargent, E. A. Abbey and William Dannat, have never become adherents of either the French or English schools. They have assimilated the teachings of these schools, and emerged with a style of their own and a brilliancy and technique which we proudly call "American," from the fact that it belongs to painters of American birth.
Among the many exhibitors there are several who interest us from their personality aside from the merit of their work. There is Mr. H. O. Tanner, a talented colored man, who has lived some years in Paris and produced some very beautiful and sympathetic pictures. His "Annunciation" is beautiful in treatment and Oriental in its color. Then there is Mr. Albert Lynch, a native of Peru, who has lived during the greater part of his art career also in Paris, and Mr. Simon Gonzales, of Chili, and our own Elihu Vedder, whose studio in Rome has sent forth so many mystic and symbolical paintings.
The women bravely hold their own with their brother artists. Such well-known names as Cecilia Beaux, Rosina Emmett Sherwood, Laura Hills and Mary MacMonnies being amply represented.
It is most interesting to see grouped together the pictures which have received prizes and medals at our great exhibitions during the past few years. Mr. Shaw, who gave the endowment for the Shaw Fund, shows the entire collection of pictures which have been deemed worthy to take the prize instituted by him.
Many of the art institutions all over the country have generously come forward and contributed their choicest collections, while the great private collectors, no whit behind in patriotism, have also lavishly contributed to the success of the art show and loaned their priceless treasures. It is said that this is the finest collection of American art which has ever been gathered together, and one can well believe it, as he wanders through the galleries brilliant with color and various with landscape, portraits and imaginative themes.
The distance from grave to gay is said to be but a single step, and never do we feel this more keenly than when we pass out of the Art Gallery and come almost immediately upon the Ordnance exhibit.
Great guns are mounted here - and there are two buildings filled with all the appliances of war - stretchers, ambulances, shot and shell and rifles. There are always to be found poring over these guns and the intricate machines for killing, many small boys, who seem to find endless delight in the study. One wonders if these are embryo heroes who will one day march at their country's call.
On the whole, there do not seem to be as many children about as one would expect, yet the Exposition is admirably planned for them, its very compactness reducing fatigue to a minimum, and many of its charms being those most appreciated by the youthful mind - canals with the gondolas, music in many stands, and here, there and everywhere gay flowers and strange peoples - and the Midway!
The pretty flag designed for the Exposition, with its "Pax" for "peace," is gay and ornamental. It floats all about the grounds and is seen in large numbers all about the city. The great stores in the shopping district are almost as bright as the show itself, with streamers and banners and windows dressed with attractive wares.
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