The Field Museum Library via Wikimedia Commons
The Field Museum Library via Wikimedia Commons

Art From the 1893 World’s Fair Was Found in a Chicago Storage Facility

The Field Museum Library via Wikimedia Commons
The Field Museum Library via Wikimedia Commons

During Industrialization, World’s Fairs became the hottest places to showcase art and technology from across the globe. In 1893, the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago hosted exhibits from Nicola Tesla and Thomas Edison, debuted Pabst Blue Ribbon beer and Juicy Fruit Gum, and became the site of the world’s first Ferris Wheel. Most of the architecture and artwork from the fair is gone for good, but three original pieces have just resurfaced.

The three intricate, carved Japanese sliding doors were discovered in a Chicago storage facility operated by the Park District. They depict two large, colorful birds and a smaller white bird against a vivid gold background.

Japan was one of many countries to construct buildings on the fairgrounds, as a way of showcasing Japanese art and architecture. The doors seem to have come from an installation called the Ho-o-den or "Hall of the Phoenix," and were made by a Japanese artist by the name of Hashimoto Gaho. In his photographic record of the fair, Stanley Applebaum described the Japan pavilion as “the first real introduction of Japanese architecture to the Midwest.”

An essay published the year after the fair opened dedicates a section to the fair’s Ho-o-den, and even appears to describe the newly discovered doors:

"The painting on the wall of the central room, depicting male and female phoenixes at play with their young, is by Professor Hashimoto, of the Tokyo Fine Art School, and his pupils. It is emblematic of the peaceful reign of the Tokugawa Shoguns... a period extending from the beginning of the seventeenth century down to the restoration when the present Emperor came into power in 1868."

A rare photograph of the building’s interior from the essay helped experts identify the pieces as the real thing.

The grounds of the Columbian Exposition were designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the famous landscape architect behind Central Park. The gorgeous layout and architecture of the fair is thought by many to be the inspiration behind the Emerald City in L. Frank Baum’s classic novels. When designing the grounds, Olmsted thought to put an island in the fair’s artificial lagoon that would offer visitors an escape from the over-stimulation. At the center of this Wooded Island stood the Japan pavilion.

While the Wooded Island is still around today, the pavilion along with most of the exposition’s architecture is long gone. In order to restore the pieces of Japanese art, the city of Chicago plans to collaborate with the Art Institute where they’ll likely go on display.

[h/t: Gizmodo]

5 Things You Might Not Know About Ansel Adams

You probably know Ansel Adams—who was born on February 20, 1902—as the man who helped promote the National Park Service through his magnificent photographs. But there was a lot more to the shutterbug than his iconic, black-and-white vistas. Here are five lesser-known facts about the celebrated photographer.


Adams was a four-year-old tot when the 1906 San Francisco earthquake struck his hometown. Although the boy managed to escape injury during the quake itself, an aftershock threw him face-first into a garden wall, breaking his nose. According to a 1979 interview with TIME, Adams said that doctors told his parents that it would be best to fix the nose when the boy matured. He joked, "But of course I never did mature, so I still have the nose." The nose became Adams' most striking physical feature. His buddy Cedric Wright liked to refer to Adams' honker as his "earthquake nose.


Adams was an energetic, inattentive student, and that trait coupled with a possible case of dyslexia earned him the heave-ho from private schools. It was clear, however, that he was a sharp boy—when motivated.

When Adams was just 12 years old, he taught himself to play the piano and read music, and he quickly showed a great aptitude for it. For nearly a dozen years, Adams focused intensely on his piano training. He was still playful—he would end performances by jumping up and sitting on his piano—but he took his musical education seriously. Adams ultimately devoted over a decade to his study, but he eventually came to the realization that his hands simply weren't big enough for him to become a professional concert pianist. He decided to leave the keys for the camera after meeting photographer Paul Strand, much to his family's dismay.


If you've ever enjoyed Kings Canyon National Park in California, tip your cap to Adams. In the 1930s Adams took a series of photographs that eventually became the book Sierra Nevada: The John Muir Trail. When Adams sent a copy to Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes, the cabinet member showed it to Franklin Roosevelt. The photographs so delighted FDR that he wouldn't give the book back to Ickes. Adams sent Ickes a replacement copy, and FDR kept his with him in the White House.

After a few years, Ickes, Adams, and the Sierra Club successfully convinced Roosevelt to make Kings Canyon a national park in 1940. Roosevelt's designation specifically provided that the park be left totally undeveloped and roadless, so the only way FDR himself would ever experience it was through Adams' lenses.


While many of his contemporary fine art photographers shunned commercial assignments as crass or materialistic, Adams went out of his way to find paying gigs. If a company needed a camera for hire, Adams would generally show up, and as a result, he had some unlikely clients. According to The Ansel Adams Gallery, he snapped shots for everyone from IBM to AT&T to women's colleges to a dried fruit company. All of this commercial print work dismayed Adams's mentor Alfred Stieglitz and even worried Adams when he couldn't find time to work on his own projects. It did, however, keep the lights on.


Adams and legendary painter O'Keeffe were pals and occasional traveling buddies who found common ground despite their very different artistic approaches. They met through their mutual friend/mentor Stieglitz—who eventually became O'Keeffe's husband—and became friends who traveled throughout the Southwest together during the 1930s. O'Keeffe would paint while Adams took photographs.

These journeys together led to some of the artists' best-known work, like Adams' portrait of O'Keeffe and a wrangler named Orville Cox, and while both artists revered nature and the American Southwest, Adams considered O'Keeffe the master when it came to capturing the area. 

“The Southwest is O’Keeffe’s land,” he wrote. “No one else has extracted from it such a style and color, or has revealed the essential forms so beautifully as she has in her paintings.”

The two remained close throughout their lives. Adams would visit O'Keeffe's ranch, and the two wrote to each other until Adams' death in 1984.

Dan Bell
A Cartographer Is Mapping All of the UK’s National Parks, J.R.R. Tolkien-Style
Peak District National Park
Peak District National Park
Dan Bell

Cartographer Dan Bell makes national parks into fantasy lands. Bell, who lives near Lake District National Park in England, is currently on a mission to draw every national park in the UK in the style of the maps in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, reports.

The project began in September 2017, when Bell posted his own hand-drawn version of a Middle Earth map online. He received such a positive response that he decided to apply the fantasy style to real world locations. He has completed 11 out of the UK’s 15 parks so far. Once he finishes, he hopes to tackle the U.S. National Park system, too. (He already has Yellowstone National Park down.)

Bell has done various other maps in the same style, including ones for London and Game of Thrones’s Westeros, and he commissions, in case you have your own special locale that could use the Tolkien treatment. Check out a few of his park maps below.

A close-up of a map for Peak District National Park
Peak District National Park in central England
Dan Bell

A black-and-white illustration of Cairngorms National Park in the style of a 'Lord of the Rings' map.
Cairngorms National Park in Scotland
Dan Bell

A black-and-white illustration of Lake District National Park in the style of a 'Lord of the Rings' map.
Lake District National Park in England
Dan Bell

You can buy prints of the maps here.


All images by Dan Bell


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