Have you ever wondered what just how splendid the 1901 Pan-American Exposition appeared in color, rather than simply black and white? While there are some color postcards and paintings that depict the event in color, the photographic images are all in black and white, of course.
Currently, the Buffalo History Museum is exhibiting a number of “dazzling” hand-rendered composite studies of Pan-Am buildings that were created by artist and illustrator C.Y. Turner, the director of color for the Pan-Am. The renderings were created prior to the event, to demonstrate the awesome nature – and potential – of the Expo, which would ultimately draw over 8,000,000 visitors.
The renderings, on display in the Museum’s State Court, depict a colorized rendition of the Expo that intended to demonstrate the “fierce struggle of man to overcome the elements” and the “triumph and superiority of Western civilization.”
The Buffalo History Museum has now debuted the new exhibit, titled “To Rescue the Color: Salvaged Renderings of the Rainbow City,” which features more than a half-dozen colorized renderings.
Incredibly, the spectacular renderings were almost scrapped at the end of the Expo, similar to what took place with the ephemeral buildings that were never intended to last. It was a colleague of Turner’s – Carl Hirschberg – who salvaged the works. Hirschberg had the foresight to understand the importance of the documents, and fittingly donated them to the Buffalo Historical Society, as it was called at the time.
Hirschberg noted in a November 1901 letter to Society President Andrew Langdon that the paintings 'will soon represent the only record of a great artistic success.'
To enhance to the insightful nature of the exhibition, the Buffalo History Museum invested over $50,000 over the course of seven years, to conserve and frame the renderings, which offer up a dramatic new perspective of the exposition’s horticultural, graphic arts, and forestry buildings.
Anyone who has ever dreamed about the magnificence of Buffalo’s celebrated-yet-tragic 1901 Expo will come to have an even greater appreciation for the magic that left visitors spellbound.
“We literally have thousands of black and white photographs of the Exposition in the collection. Color references for the ‘Rainbow City’ are far scarcer, yet so critical to our understanding of this pivotal moment in our city’s history,” said Buffalo History Museum Executive Director, Melissa Brown. “C.Y. Turner’s team created hundreds of these studies and as guests will find in the exhibit, we are very fortunate this precious sampling endures.”
The Museum is open with pay what you wish admission, Wednesdays 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Thursdays through Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
1 Museum Ct, Buffalo, NY 14216 | (716) 873-9644