Anthropology Exhibit or Midway Concession?
In this activity you will evaluate a small selection of descriptions and images of exhibits at the World's Fair. Click here to view the activity sheet as a PDF.
All of the descriptions and photographs on the activity sheet were created by visitors to the fair in 1893. Some are from the Anthropology exhibits in the main Fair grounds, others are from the Midway Plaisance. For each of the primary sources in the activity sheet, answer the following questions:
-What is going on in the exhibit in this source? Does the exhibit focus on a particular tribe or activity?
-Are there any American Indian people involved in the exhibit? If so, what is the role of the American Indian participants? Do you think a member of an American Indian group helped to design this exhibit?
-What would a fairgoer learn about American Indians from viewing this exhibit? What does the image or text seem to focus on? (e.g. clothing, activity, character?)
-Would you expect to find the exhibit in the Midway Plaisance or the Anthropology exhibits within the main exposition grounds? Explain how you arrived at your decision.
-Do you find anything problematic about the representation of American Indians here? For example, does the exhibit reinforce stereotypes?
When the teacher reveals the actual locations of each exhibition, note where the exhibits actually belonged. Were you generally able to guess correctly? If not, why not? After exploring and evaluating sources from the Midway and the Anthropology exhibits, do you find the representation of American Indians in the two areas to be different in style or approach? If so, how? If not, what differences do you think the fairgoers in 1893 would have seen?