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Immerse Yourself in Vintage Paris This Summer at the Portland Art Museum

Paris 1900: City of Entertainment transports visitors to the French capital at the turn of the century. Go beyond the glamour and learn about Portland’s own world fair, plus see how W.E.B. Du Bois put black excellence on the world stage.

Presented by Portland Art Museum July 2, 2019

Paris 1900: City of Entertainment, Portland Art Museum.

From Paris to Portland

This summer the Portland Art Museum invites visitors to travel back to Paris at the dawn of the 20th century and experience the splendor of the sparkling French capital as it hosted the world for the International Exposition of 1900. This was the height of the Belle Époque, a period of peace and prosperity in France when fine art, fashion, and entertainment flourished as never before. Fifty-one million visitors from around the world attended the Exposition and flooded the city, where they enjoyed its posh restaurants, opulent opera house, artistic cabarets, and well-tended parks. For the French, it was an opportunity to show off their prowess in the arts, sciences, and new technology, and to highlight what made Paris unique from rivals London and Berlin.

Paris 1900: City of Entertainment, Portland Art Museum.

Inspired by an exhibition originally presented in 2014 at the Petit Palais in Paris, Paris 1900 re-creates the look and feel of the era through more than 200 paintings, decorative art objects, textiles, posters, photographs, jewelry, sculpture, and film.

Paris 1900: City of Entertainment, Portland Art Museum.

Paris 1900 connections to Portland, the Chinatown Museum, Pittock Mansion, and more

Complementing the exhibition are a number of opportunities to dig deeper into the content of the exhibition and discover new local connections. During the summer of 1905, Portland hosted its own worldwide exposition. Its full official title was the Portland Lewis and Clark Centennial and American Pacific Exposition and Oriental Fair. This summer the Pittock Mansion will display unique keepsakes and souvenirs from the fair, drawn from the private collection of Mike Cramer and including souvenirs from former Governor Victor Atiyeh’s collection. The Museum’s sold-out event The Portland World’s Fair: A 1905 Walking Tour is a collaboration between the Portland Art Museum, Oregon Historical Society, and the newly opened Portland Chinatown Museum. Participants will reflect on the fair and its complex histories, including its mythological representations of the far American West as a conquered land, and as a site for further expansion west into the Pacific and Asian markets. Featured speakers will share a variety of perspectives on the Fair and how it was a turning point for many immigrant communities in Portland. While the walking tour is sold out, be sure to make plans to visit the Portland Chinatown Museum and head over to the historical society’s Oregon Encyclopedia to learn about the Lewis and Clark Centennial.

Paris 1900: City of Entertainment, Portland Art Museum.

Visitors will also get an opportunity to learn about another exhibit from the 1900 Paris Exposition via the Museum’s presentation of Color Line: Black Excellence on the World Stage, a selection of reproduced photographs and data charts by W.E.B. Du Bois. A civil rights activist, Du Bois put together “The American Negro Exhibit,” a remarkable collection of more than 300 photographs of African-American men and women, homes, churches, businesses, and universities. These photographs were paired with a series of charts and graphs designed by Du Bois to visualize data about the descendants of former slaves in the United States. The exhibit directly challenged racist stereotypes and notions of racial segregation that were pervasive at the time. As part of this exhibit in Paris, Du Bois presented his prophetic and poetic statement, “The problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color line”—a problem of the human condition that remains unresolved to this day. View and search the entire collection of 553 photographs, data charts, and documents through the Library of Congress.

Paris 1900: City of Entertainment, Portland Art Museum.

Visitor Tips:

  • Make time to enjoy a cup of coffee and linger in the faux French café inside the Museum if you visit Friday through Sunday.
  • Make the most of your visit and come on a day with a public program or tour!
  • Kids 17 and under are always free.
  • Free admission every first Thursday of the month from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
  • $5 admission after 5 p.m. every Friday.