The 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis, officially known as the Louisiana Purchase Centennial Exposition, celebrated the anniversary of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. Opening on April 30, 1904, the fair ran for seven months, closing on December 1. During this time, 19,694,855 people visited from all over the world.
The fair featured exhibits on the latest technological and industrial innovations as well as cultural attractions spread out over a 1,200-acre fairground located in St. Louis’s Forrest Park. The majority of the fair’s 1,500 buildings were temporary, constructed of a wood frame covered with a mixture of plaster and fibers, but the Palace of Fine Art, now the St. Louis Art Museum, still stands today. The flight cage at the St. Louis Zoo still exists, as does the administration building at Washington University. Noted Missouri landscape architect George Kessler, created the master design for the fair. The fair was an international event with 62 countries and 43 of 45 states participating. The main artery of the fairgrounds was “The Pike,” which featured food vendors and exhibits. At the close of the fair, the temporary structures were demolished.
Kansas City, Kansas, played a small role in the fair when public school students had the honor of exhibiting their artwork there. More than 300 works of art were submitted and displayed during the run of the fair. It is not known where the artwork was displayed or for how long but the drawings and paintings created by students in grades 1-8 were donated to the library in the 1960s, compiled in large scrapbooks, and have recently been digitized. Many of the works are viewable on the Kansas Room Digital Collections webpage. Schools that participated included Armstrong, Lowell, Morse, Hawthorne, Longfellow, Abbott, Armourdale, Central, Prescott, Bancroft, and Stowe.