Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 66.djvu/108

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104
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

THE LOUISIANA PURCHASE EXPOSITION.

An international exposition offers certain advantages and certain drawbacks as a place of meeting for an international congress. The drawbacks—both physical and mental—are sufficiently obvious. They are perhaps given more weight than they deserve, and thus a new obstacle is set up. With a comparatively small change in the conditions that have ordinarily prevailed, an exposition and a congress should help each other. They have in many ways the same ends in view. As civilization advances science and the arts become an increasing part of life. The St. Louis exposition, all the way from the Pike to the International Congress of Arts and Science, overlaps continually with the objects and the field of this magazine. It would be satisfactory if we could give an adequate appreciation and criticism of the exposition, but this does not appear to be feasible. It may, however, be worth the while in a number of the Monthly devoted to the International Congress to give some illustrations showing its material setting, and to devote a few words to the exposition itself.

The magnitude of the exposition, its hundreds of buildings, measured by the acre, and the tens of millions of dollars that it cost have been duly advertised; and allowance is made by sensible people for crudeness, flimsiness and heterogeneity. A certain architectural unity has been given to the whole scheme by the fan-like radiating avenues or plazas which converge towards the central festival hall. At night, under the electric illumination, the effects are marvelous and beautiful. It can scarcely be claimed, however, that any significant advance has been made beyond the Chicago exposition. It seems that the limits of magnitude and universality have been reached, and that subsequent international expositions, should they occur, must aim to surpass their predecessors in completeness in some particular direction.

In the classification of the St. Louis Exposition education was given the central place, and the fact that the new buildings of Washingeon University were occupied also emphasized higher education. Germany made a fine educational exhibit, and an Indian school and other schools were shown in operation. It would have been well if the buildings of Washington University could have been used to show a national or international university in operation with the speakers of the International Congress as the teachers; but this would doubtless be asking too much. Anthropology, directly and indirectly, should occupy a prominent place in an international exposition. At St. Louis the Philippine exhibit was timely and well arranged, with its native villages and the thousand representatives of the different peoples.

The progress of the applied sciences since the Chicago exposition is doubtless the most notable feature of the period, and this was adequately represented at St. Louis. The names of the buildings—agriculture, machinery, electricity, mines and metallurgy, etc.—make it clear that an exposition is practically an exhibit of applied science. The advances in America during this period have probably been unsurpassed, but the exhibits of Germany and Japan show that they are not unrivaled.