Get a preview of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art's biggest show of the year when curator Catherine Futter and her colleagues explore Inventing the Modern World: Decorative Arts at the World's Fairs, 1851-1939 on Tuesday, May 22, 2012, at 6:30 p.m. at the Plaza Branch, 4801 Main St.
In a pre-television, pre-internet era, World's Fairs were vital in exposing the public to new products, technological inventions, and artistic developments. They were the first global marketplaces, where manufacturers and artisans displayed their most ingenious innovations.
It was an opportunity to see the entire world in one place.
Many now-common products were introduced at a world's fair including ice cream cones, the Ferris wheel, and Cracker Jacks.
The 200 objects assembled for the Nelson-Atkins' exhibit were all shown at world's fairs, but have never before been seen together. Sixty custom-made exhibit cases were built to hold decorative items like ceramics, glassware, and tableware.
In addition, the exhibit was designed to give the impression of many fairs over many years. The earliest displays are presented in environments with neo-classical elements. As the visitor works through the 20th century, the décor of the exhibit changes to reflect a streamlined art deco appearance.
Catherine Futter is the Helen Jane and R. Hugh "Pat" Uhlmann Curator of Decorative Arts at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art,
Admission is free. The event will be preceded by a 6 p.m. reception. RSVP online  or call 816.701.3407.
This event is co-sponsored by the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.