Tuesday, June 17, 2014

New Jersey’s World’s Fair History, Innovation Highlighted

New Jersey’s World’s Fair History, Innovation Highlighted
New Exhibit Opening June 21st

The New Jersey State Museum is pleased to announce the opening of "New Jersey on Display", an exciting new exhibition chronicling New Jersey’s involvement in seven world’s fairs held between 1876 and 1964. At these spectacular, international events, New Jersey promoted itself to the world by juxtaposing its revolutionary past with a modern, innovative present and promise for the future. The exhibit features the stories of pioneering entrepreneurs such as Thomas Edison, the Roebling Family, and David Sarnoff, who promoted their products at world’s fairs, as well as political innovators, including Alice Paul, who used the world’s fair phenomenon as a platform to earn women the right to vote. "New Jersey on Display" opens June 21, 2014 and runs through January 4, 2015 in the Museum’s Riverside Gallery.

Isaac Broome’s Baseball Vases, made for the 1876 Centennial (foreground) and
the Trenton Potteries Company’s vases, made for the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair (background).
The exhibition was developed as part of this year’s celebration of New Jersey’s 350th birthday; the anniversary of the English land grant creating “New Jersey.” The state is celebrating with the themes of Innovation, Diversity and Liberty. “After its founding in 1895, the Museum became a repository for a number of objects exhibited at these events,” said Anthony Gardener, NJSM Executive Director. “Telling the story of how New Jersey was represented at world’s fairs over time is a natural extension of our collections and highlights New Jersey’s long history of innovation, diversity and liberty.” The Museum’s Cultural History Curator, Nicholas Ciotola, will be leading guided tours of the new exhibition as part of the featured activities of NJ350: A Capital Celebration, being held on June 22. For more information on June 22 festival and the year-long celebration visit www.officialnj350.com.

At world’s fairs, New Jersey also promoted itself as an innovator in the decorative arts. The exhibition is the first to reunite four stellar examples of New Jersey’s ceramic arts – the monumental porcelain vases created by the Trenton Pottery company for the Saint Louis World’s Fair – all designed, fired, painted, glazed, and gilded in New Jersey. After the fair ended, the vases became separated and one, the Woodland Vase, went missing and was presumed lost for 107 years. Discovered at auction in California in 2011, the vase was immediately purchased by the Trenton City Museum. The other vases are owned by the New Jersey State Museum, the Newark Museum, and the Brooklyn Museum.

"New Jersey on Display" will also reunite Isaac Broome’s much-heralded Baseball Vase – a decorative arts masterpiece in the permanent collection of the NJSM – with its identical twin, now housed in the collection of the Detroit Historical Museum. Commissioned by the Trenton ceramics firm Ott & Brewer, the pair of magnificent parian porcelain vases first went on display to the world at the 1876 Centennial in Philadelphia. The exhibition also features light-hearted world’s fair trivia, such as who really invented the “Ferris” wheel, the discovery of the ice cream cone, and the origin of Hires Root Beer – all of which are connected to the Garden State.

The New Jersey State Museum, located at 205 West State Street in Trenton, is open Tuesday through Sunday from 9:00 am - 4:45 pm. The Museum is closed Mondays and all state holidays. The NJ State Museum has a “suggested” admission fee. Admission fee revenue supports the Museum’s collections, exhibitions and programs. For more information, please visit the Museum’s website at www.statemuseum.nj.gov or call the recorded information line at 609-292-6464. On weekends, free parking is available in lots adjacent to and behind the Museum. Please visit www.trentonparking.com for a number of options for parking in downtown Trenton during the week.

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