Displaying the 1939-1940 World’s Fair

Building One, Treasure Island, 2009 photo by Don Barrett

San Francisco has hosted three World’s Fairs. The first was the the 1894 Midwinter Fair in Golden Gate Park; the second was the 1915 Pan-Pacific International Exposition in the Marina. This year marks the 70th anniversary of the Golden Gate International Exposition, San Francisco’s third World’s Fair, which took place in 1939 and 1940 on the newly-created Treasure Island in San Francisco Bay. As anyone who curates exhibits using historical materials knows, there’s nothing like an anniversary to give you a theme.

There are at least three exhibits this year that focus on the Golden Gate International Exposition. Opening this month outside the San Francisco History Center on the sixth floor of the San Francisco Main Library, the Skylight Gallery is currently featuring “A Trip to the Fair, 1939: The Golden Gate International Exposition in San Francisco”, which includes paper-based materials and some artifacts. Also opening this month at the Officer’s Club in the Presidio is their photo exhibit “Treasure Island 1939: San Francisco’s Pagent of the Pacific”. Finally, the San Francisco Airport Museums is hosting an exhibit that closes this month in Terminal 1 (South) Entrance Lobby A of the San Francisco International Airport entitled “Flying to the Fair: Aviation and the 1939-1940 Golden Gate International Exposition”, which is more artifact-based than the other two exhibits.

As one might explect, all three exhibits are publicized on websites. It is interesting to note differences in design among those three sites – especially in terms of taking advantage of web functionality such as linking. The website for the Skylight Gallery includes a link to the San Francisco History Center’s online historic photo collection – specifically, a page highlighting that collection’s holdings as they relate to the 1939 World’s Fair. The website for the Presidio Officer’s Club exhibit includes a link to the website of the Treasure Island Development Authority, which includes a history page that includes links both to the San Francisco History Center’s online 1939 World’s Fair photographs, as well as Treasure Island-related podcasts from Richard Miller’s Sparkletack website. The San Francisco Airport Museums does not include any links on the website about their exhibit, and is the most Web 1.0 in its presentation.

1 Comment

Filed under San Francisco History Center

One response to “Displaying the 1939-1940 World’s Fair

  1. And don’t forget the photo exhibit in Building One on Treasure Island. See website for access information. The exhibit, “Portal to the Pacific,” was curated and produced by the Treasure Island Museum Association at the invitation of the Treasure Island Development Authority. It opened in November of 2o08 and no closing date is scheduled.

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