On May 10th, 1876, President Ulysses S. Grant stood near the front steps of Memorial Hall to formally open the Centennial Exhibition and invite the world to see how much America had grown since 1776. The Centennial Exhibition served not only as America’s 100th birthday party, but more importantly was the third World’s Fair to be held in the United States! Did you know that bananas, kindergarten and the telephone were first introduced to many Americans at the fair?
Opening day of the Centennial Exhibition, May 10, 1876
View from the steps of Memorial Hall, looking toward the Main Exhibition Building. The bleacher seating was for the VIPs—Centennial Commission members, U.S. and foreign political figures and special guests.
Image Courtesy, Robby Cohen Collection
In addition to introducing America as an industrialized nation, the Centennial Exhibition also introduced the world to numerous new and exciting discoveries and inventions. The Centennial closed on November 10, 1876, and in those short six months over 10 million people had come to Philadelphia to see and experience the excitement and grandeur of the Centennial Exhibition!
On Monday, we will be celebrating the 134th anniversary of opening day with special Centennial themed programming throughout the museum. The day’s programming is intended to highlight major themes of the Centennial Exhibition, while introducing our young audience to the concept of history through age appropriate, familiar, and fun activities.
Kids will be able to paint, explore transportation of the period, and play with reproduction Froebel blocks throughout the day in the Program Room. The Story Castle will feature carnival themed stories at 10:30 and 3:30. Visitors will get the opportunity to interact with collections objects during a stereograph themed KidGlove Program at 1:00 in the Centennial Train Station. In addition, there will be parades in the Centennial Train Station at 12:00 and 2:00.
And grown-ups, don’t worry we didn’t forget about you, we will be offering special $10 guided Centennial Tours at 2:00 Saturday, May 8th to Monday, May 10th.