Temporary structures and presentation of national contexts
Between evocations and archaeological reconstruction
At the World’s Fairs, significant historical monuments were often reconstructed within the areas dedicated to different countries.
Among the buildings at the International Exhibitions, and in particular the pavilions of the countries of the Arab and Ottoman worlds, the replicas of historical monuments, shown in different national contexts as testimony to their cultural heritage, are particularly noteworthy. With a view to rediscovering the past and in line with the cultural climate at the time, combined with the commercial interests that drove the organisation of these World’s Fairs, reconstruction of the most significant historical monuments, albeit temporary, helped to give the mainly European general public a better idea of the material culture of individual countries. Some of these reconstructions were reused in later years in entirely different environments, such as museum exhibits or teaching aids. The attempt to synthesise human progress at the Paris exhibition of 1889 in the unconvincing exhibit titled “History of Human Habitation” was much less successful, simply because it was seen as misleading and inauthentic.
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Temporary structures and presentation of national contexts

The national pavilions and the “Rue des Nations”
“The Moresque Town” and the “Cairo Street”
The Bazaar on display
Between evocations and archaeological reconstruction
Rosette shaped part of the minbar of the Mosque of Ibn Tulun

1296; exhibited at Paris World Trade Exhibition in 1867

MAK – Austrian Museum of Applied Arts / Contemporary Art, Vienna, Austria

Carved and inlayed wood

Fragments of the minbar from the Ibn Tulun Mosque in Cairo were on show at the exhibition held in Paris in 1867. Exhibitions displaying objects such as this sparked interest among European museums to acquire similar artefacts, such as the rosette seen here, which is now in Vienna.

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In this Exhibition
About the Exhibition
The official showcase of the nations
Temporary structures and presentation of national contexts
The diffusion of models and promotion of trade
West and East, fine art at International Exhibitions