Decorative Arts

A Century of Progress International Exposition, 1933-1934

Image of woman's bracelet, brass tray, and compact from 1933 Worlds Fair.

Tray
Maker unknown
1933
brass
Gift of Sue Price, 2004.25.38
ILLINOIS LEGACY COLLECTION – ILLINOIS STATE MUSEUM
Compact
Girey
1934
metal, plastic, glass
Gift of Sue Price, 2004.25.187
ILLINOIS LEGACY COLLECTION – ILLINOIS STATE MUSEUM
Bracelet
Maker unknown
1934
metal, plastic
Gift of Sue Price, 2004.25.187
ILLINOIS LEGACY COLLECTION – ILLINOIS STATE MUSEUM

During the depths of the Great Depression in 1933-34, Chicago staged its second world fair, A Century of Progress International Exposition, to celebrate its centennial anniversary. Its purpose was to celebrate the amazing advances in technology during the period 1833-1933 and to inspire fairgoers with the promise of the happier future that scientific innovation promised.

Wedding Shoes

Image of wedding shoes.

1761
Illinois Legacy Collection, Illinois State Museum
Gift of Mrs. Robert Gillespie, 1972.028.746876

These shoes were passed down through six generations of an Illinois family. They were worn by the donor’s great-great-grandmother, Joahanna Herrick of Massachusetts, when she married William Bartlett at age 16 in 1761.

Magic Lantern

Image of handmade magic lantern.
In the era before moving pictures, magic lantern shows were a popular form of entertainment. An early precursor of a slide projector, this device used the light of a candle or oil lamp to project images on a wall or screen from glass slides. Public magic lantern shows entertained audiences with projected images, narration, and live music. Smaller models of magic lanterns were available for home use and were especially popular as holiday gifts.

Dinner Bucket

Image of enameled ware dinner bucket.

Dinner Bucket
Fancy fare for the working man
1915
Illinois State Museum, Illinois Legacy Collection
Gift of Lee I. Niedringhaus, 2006.149a-d

This dinner bucket was used by a working man to carry lunch to his job site. It is a rare surviving example of the oblong bucket produced by the National Enamel and Stamping Company (NESCO) of Granite City.

Hand-Painted Bowl

Image of Pickard China bowl painted by Ingeborg Klein.
This bowl was painted with a bird of paradise design by Swedish immigrant Ingeborg Klein for the Pickard China Company. Klein worked for Pickard from 1920 until about 1925, when she returned to Sweden.

Wedding dress

Image of wedding dress worn by Illinois First Lady Catherine Yates.
Sixteen-year-old Catherine Geers wore this dress when she married a young lawyer named Richard Yates in Jacksonville on July 9, 1839. The couple had five children, though one died in infancy, and one was struck by lightning and killed at age 11. 

World's Columbian Exposition Quilt

Image of Columbian Exposition crazy quilt.

Leonard F. Mitchell
1893
silk, velvet, satin, brocade
Gift of Peggy L. Gurach and Lynn Guarch-Pardo, 2004.201
ILLINOIS LEGACY COLLECTION - ILLINOIS STATE MUSEUM

This crazy quilt was created to commemorate the World’s Columbian Exposition, which was held in Chicago in 1893 to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s discovery of the Americas. An image of Columbus occupies the center of the quilt. Below him are images of Bertha Palmer, one of the Fair’s organizers; George Washington; an unidentified woman; President Grover Cleveland, who opened the fair on May 1, 1893; and the Duke of Veragua of Spain, the only living descendant of Christopher Columbus at the time.

Augusta Margaret Linebarger’s Stroller

Image of child's stroller.
Augusta Margaret was born in 1917 to Harley and Lillian Linebarger of Edgar County. In 1920, she developed juvenile diabetes, for which there was no known treatment at the time. Unable to metabolize sugar, Augusta Margaret could not derive adequate nutrition from the food she ate. In an effort to prolong her life, her parents developed special menus for her and took her repeatedly to the hospital in Danville. Ultimately, a doctor wrote to them and told them that he could offer no hope for their little girl. As she grew too frail to walk, her parents took her out in this stroller.

Child’s Jumpsuit

Image of anti-war child's jumpsuit.

maker unknown
c. 1972
cotton
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Roy Pickel, 1979.87.2
ILLINOIS LEGACY COLLECTION – ILLINOIS STATE MUSEUM

Opposition to American involvement in the Vietnam War began with small demonstrations on college campuses in 1964. By the end of the decade, anti-war sentiment had grown into a broad social movement that sparked a counterculture revolution.

Mosaic Quilt

Image of mosaic quilt, Albert Small, 1941-1945.

c. 1941-1945
Illinois Legacy Collection, Illinois State Museum
Gift of William A. Small and Evelyn Small Carter, 1992.51.3

After teasing his wife and daughter about the workmanship of one of their quilts, Albert Small was tartly asked if he could do any better. “I can and I will,” he replied and bet them that he could make his own quilt using more pieces of smaller size than anything they could produce. Albert was a foreman at the Ottawa Silica Plant; he had no quiltmaking experience. Nevertheless, after working with dynamite and heavy machinery all day, he picked up his needle and thread at night and succeeded in creating a quilt out of more than 36,000 hexagon-shaped pieces.

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