Many of the products and practices we take for granted today were first introduced at a World's Fair.
Historian Robert Rydell looks at that legacy in From Advertising and Anthropology to X-Rays and Zippers: Innovations at World's Fairs and the World They Made on Wednesday June 6, 2012, at 6:30 p.m. at the Central Library, 14 W. 10th St.
Rydell notes that because almost 30 years have passed since the last world's fair was held in the United States, it is easy to forget their importance in shaping the modern world.
Nevertheless, between 1851 and 1940 world's fairs inspired and promoted innovations in architecture, the arts, music, science, and technology, not to mention consumer culture and mass entertainment.
A world without those world's fairs, Rydell maintains, would not be the world we live in today.
A professor of history at Montana State University, Rydell is one of the world's foremost experts on world's fairs. Among his many books are All the World's a Fair: Visions of Empire at American International Expositions, 1876-1916 ; Fair America: World's Fairs in the United States ; World of Fairs: The Century-of-Progress Expositions ; and Grand Illusions: Chicago's World's Fair of 1893 .
Rydell's presentation complements the exhibit Inventing the Modern World: Decorative Arts at the World's Fairs, 1851-1939 on display through August 19, 2012, 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. Free parking is available at the Library District Parking Garage at 10th & Baltimore.
Major funding for programs at the Kansas City Public Library is provided by a generous grant from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.