Louis Aubrun. “Art Gallery, Centennial International Exhibition. 1876. Fairmount Park Philadelphia.” [Now the Please Touch Museum].
Philadelphia: Thomas Hunter, 1874. 13 1/2 x 21. Tinted lithograph. Very good condition. Framed. Prints of Philadelphia: 229. A/A
A large, lithographic view of one of the main buildings for the Centennial International Exhibition, held in Philadelphia in 1876. This print was issued by Thomas Hunter, who took over the firm of P.S. Duval & Son, and continued to issue excellent prints of Philadelphia. The largest group of prints he issued was a series commissioned by the Centennial Board of Finance as part of the effort to publicize the forthcoming fair, and to raise money for this ambitious project. The prints were based upon official plans for the buildings, and they were designed to be sold separately as souvenirs of what was to become America’s first great tourist attraction.
The monumental Art Gallery, along with Agricultural Hall, was one of the only two large exhibition halls designed to be permanent. This structure, designed by Hermann J. Schwarzmann, still stands in Fairmount Park and it is now known simply as Memorial Hall. It became the only surviving building when Agricultural Hall had to be torn down because of hurricane damage in 1954. During the Centennial the building was used as an art gallery. It housed the forerunner to the Philadelphia Museum of Art prior to the construction of the new gallery on top of the old Fairmount Waterworks reservoir. With its enormous dome, sculptural ornamentation and grand arches, the Art Gallery was indeed one of the most ceremonial and imposing buildings of the Centennial.