By Nancy J. Parezo
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Extra resources for Anthropology Goes to the Fair: The 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition (Critical Studies in the History of Anthropology)
National Museum in the Government Building. The National Museum anthropology exhibits, designed largely by Otis T. Mason and Frank Hamilton Cushing, mainly consisted of long rows of glass cases stuffed with artifacts, arranged to demonstrate evolutionary principles. While this was very much in keeping with then-dominant anthropological paradigms (lock-step social evolutionary stages through which all humankind had, or would, pass), the exhibits were widely considered mind-numbing, boring, and confusing.
V. Skiff, Director of the Field Museum and lpe exhibits. Photograph by L. Strauss, 1904. St. Louis Public Library, image no. lpe 01153. new plan for an archaeological display with no Native peoples, with himself as director. The centerpiece would be models of Mesoamerican ruins and the complete dismantling of a Mayan temple and its reconstruction in St. Louis. Skiff noted that Putnam insisted the term anthropology be used to give greater latitude to the department’s operation. He had another reason for making this suggestion.
Missouri Historical Society, St. Louis, lpe1551, 30990. lpec needed to attract large crowds (over one hundred thousand per day) because it was easy to lose revenue with poor attendance. To better understand the problems they faced, the board studied earlier expositions. Some saw earlier fairs as too pedantic. ”6 The Spanish government bore the exposition costs, not a private corporation. It was clear to lpe organizers that an entertainment area was a requisite. People needed to eat, drink, and relax while studying the exhibits.