The Great American Hall of Wonders was a bold and imaginative effort to illuminate nineteenth-century American society, culture, and values. It attempted to make some original connections among art, science, and technology as well as to revive some ideas about these that are familiar to American historians of technology but not to the general public. Presented by the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the exhibition did not travel to any other museum. The exhibition featured 161 objects arranged within six sections: the buffalo, California’s giant sequoia trees, Niagara Falls, clocks, guns, and railroads. It explored the period from 1826, when former presidents Thomas Jefferson and John Adams both died, until 1876, when Philadelphia’s Centennial Exposition—the nation’s first official world’s fair—drew huge crowds. Exhibition organizer Claire Perry’s excellent accompanying catalog goes well beyond the exhibition itself.


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pp. 227-236
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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