Carnegie Museum of Art opens Inventing the Modern World. Decorative Arts at the World’s Fairs 1851-1939

Carnegie Museum of Art presents Inventing the Modern World. Decorative Arts at the World’s Fairs, 1851-1939, an exhibition on view October 13, 2012–February 24, 2013.

John Bettridge and Co.; Pianoforte and stool, c. 1867, gilded and lacquered papier-mâché, verre églomisé, mother-of-pearl, brass, aluminum, glass, and original silk, with modern upholstery (stool); Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, Women’s Committee Acquisition Fund, 2011.49.1–2. Photo by Tom Little.

This groundbreaking exhibition explores the ingenuity and craftsmanship of decorative arts made for world’s fairs, from London’s Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations in 1851, to the New York World’s Fair in 1939. During this period, the fairs were the most important vehicles for debuting advancements in modern living, democratizing design as never before. Inventing the Modern World showcases approximately 200 examples of the most extraordinary works of furniture, metalwork, glass, ceramics, textiles, and jewelry produced by leading international artists and firms, including Lalique, Sèvres, and Tiffany. These exceptional and singular objects—some never before seen in the United States—represent the pinnacle of scientific and artistic achievements of their time. Inventing the Modern World breaks new ground in its exploration of innovation in decorative arts.

The exhibition is co-organized by Jason T. Busch, Chief Curator and The Alan G. and Jane A. Lehman Curator of Decorative Arts and Design, Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, and Catherine L. Futter, Helen Jane and R. Hugh “Pat” Uhlmann Curator of Decorative Arts, The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City. –