Wednesday, November 26, 2008

New Orleans 1885: Foreign Exhibits in the Main Building.....

Covering an area of approximately seven acres, the foreign exhibits at the New Orleans exposition filled the central portion of the Main Building, on either side of Music Hall. Both government-sponsored and privately-sponsored displays came from the countries of: Great Britain, France, Belgium, Germany, Austria-Hungary, Italy, Spain, Russia, China, Japan, Siam, Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, British Honduras, Venezuela, Brazil, Jamaica, and the Hawaiian Islands. The numerous exhibits varied from excellent to disappointing, and overall the foreign section was viewed by many critics as lack-luster. Delays at U.S. Customs caused the majority of the foreign displays to arrive several weeks after the opening of the exposition. The delays were mostly the fault of the exposition’s management, who had failed to have the exposition declared a bonded-warehouse, wherein no import duties would have to be declared or paid. When exhibits finally began to arrive, there was a scramble to get the hundreds of items unpacked. Crates and boxes filled the Main Building’s vast foreign section as workers struggled to put exhibits on display as quickly as possible. In a few weeks time, the various foreign exhibits began to attain a state of sense and order. Mexico had a large and comprehensive display, covering over an acre of floor-space; China exhibited cotton in various forms, with numerous life-sized mannequins; Jamaica showed varieties of spices and rums; Brazil exhibited coffee; Guatemala and the Hawaiian Islands displayed their many forms of native handiwork; and manufacturers from the European countries exhibited their numerous wares.

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