Title: The American Exhibition

Periodical: Morning Post

Date: April 12, 1887

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The American Exhibition has been hitherto conducted somewhat on the principle of the old Italian proverb of "Chi va piano va sano," and up to the present less has been heard about it than perhaps of any institution of its magnitude ever undertaken. But since the opening day has now been fixed for May 9, doubtless ere long more will be known concerning this exhibition, for only last Thursday there arrived in the metropolis several hundred tons weight of "posters," destined to embellish the hoardings of the metropolis and its neighbourhood, and to enlighten the British public as to the wonderful attractions of Buffalo Bill and his friends. The buildings are now in a very advanced condition. The main gallery, some 1,280ft. in length, will be glazed in before Thursday, and Mr. Humphreys, of Knightsbridge, promises to have all the ironwork ready by to-day week. This includes a number of extra annexes, pavilions for special exhibits, band stands, and al fresco restaurants in the gardens. The exterior of the edifice in the Brompton-road is already faced with stone and duly embellished with medallions of Washington, Lincoln, and Cleveland, intermingled with eagles and other national devices. A fine arts department, consisting of eight vast fire-proof halls, has been erected on the left-hand side of the main gallery. Thanks to the generosity of some of the greatest art collectors in America, this will before long be filled with the best collection of purely American art ever brought together. One small room will be set aside for the reception of Sully's celebrated full length portrait of her Majesty in her coronation robes, a picture painted at the time of the Queen's accession, after she had graciously granted Mr. Sully, the first really great American painter, if we accept Benjamin West, no less than ten sittings. This important work is lent by the City of Philadelphia. Americans may be said to excel as sculptors, and an opportunity will soon be given of judging of the progress they have made in this great branch of art since Power's "Greek Slave" took the art world by storm at the Exhibition of 1851. There is every reason to foresee that this fine art gallery will prove one of the principal attractions of the Exhibition, and the American studios at Paris, Rome, Florence, Dussuldorf, Philadelphia, Boston, and New York are full of animation consequent upon accepted invitations to exhibit pictures and sculpture prepared expressly for this occasion. The collection of manufactured goods, machinery, fire arms, musical instruments, books, &c., will occupy the main gallery, and will not be divided off into States as originally proposed, but simply arranged under four or five distinct classes. If there was at first some diffidence felt by intending exhibitors in sending over goods this feeling has, owing to the energy of the executive administration under the direction of Mr. Whiteley, been entirely reversed, and so great is now the demand for space that the difficulty is to know where to place all the goods. An American fruit and vegetable market will be organised, and in the garden, on the side nearest the principal building, will be a purely American flower garden, divided into two sections, devoted respectively to the wild and cultivated flora of the United States. A large conservatory annexed will contain specimens of the tropical vegetation of Lower California and of the Southern States. The gardens are exceptionally extensive, and are being laid out with much taste. Here there are to be al fresco restaurants, music stands, Indian huts, and a real log cabin, such as delighted the elder generation in the days when "Uncle's Tom's Cabin" was in vogue. How to prepare and how to relish clam baked and American oysters will also be shown here, and naturally the "378 national drinks of the American people" will one and all be represented to the delights of the thirsty with a taste for "pick-me-up's, "blood and thunderers," "mint jalleps," and "cocktails" innumerable. Here, also, Dan Godfrey's bandsmen will remind the public by their bright scarlet uniforms that it has not been transported by magic to the neighbourhood of Central Park. The gardens will be nearly twice the size of those at South Kensington, and are divided into two distinct parts. One is a summer garden, arranged more or less like that which has so charmed us all for the past four years, and will be illuminated by electricity; the other, which is entered over a bridge, leads to an immense amphitheatre, which is now finished, and which can easily accommodate 25,000 persons seated and as many more standing. In the centre of this vast arena—which already reminds one of the interior of the Colosseum—are placed rocks and fir trees, backed by a panorama of Rocky Mountain scenery 500ft. long. Here Buffalo Bill (the Hon. J. Cody) and 200 Indians, cowboys, and scouts will illustrate the wild sports of the Far West, assisted by no less than 250 animals, including many buffaloes. This entertainment, which has met with the greatest success in New York, and has been pronounced by Mr. Henry Irving to be the most remarkable he has witnessed, will doubtless prove equally attractive in London. The famous huntsman, "Buffalo Bill," the idol of the petit people of America, arrives here next week, and ere long the Aborigines of the Great Republic will be as familiar in London streets as need be. One of the many other principal attractions of the exhibition will be M. Bertholdi's colossal diorama of the city and harbour of New York. On entering the building intended for its reception the visitor is to imagine himself on board one of the floating ocean palaces entering the "gateway of the New World." The illusion, judging from what is already shown, will be singularly complete and interesting.

The opening ceremony of the American Exhibition, as already insinuated, is fixed for May 9. At three o'clock the President will wire a cablegram from Washington, and in a few moments it will be received at the Exhibition when the band will strike up "God Save the Queen," and the American national anthem. This will probably constitute the inauguration of the first purely American Exhibition in Europe.