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Along San Francisco’s northern waterfront in 1915, thousands of residents and visitors admired such works of art as Claude Monet’s “Rouen Cathedral Facade” (1892), Winslow Homer’s “Saco Bay” (1896) and “The Sketchers” (1913) by John Singer Sargent.
Those paintings were among the estimated 20,000 works of art from more than 70 international lenders and the permanent collections of local museums featured at the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition, the world’s fair that celebrated the rebirth of San Francisco after the devastating earthquake and fire in 1906.
Such artworks have not been seen together in the 100 years following the fair.
Until this week.
As part of the yearlong centennial celebration of the fair, the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco are presenting “Jewel City: Art from San Francisco’s Panama-Pacific International Exposition,” an exhibition of some 200 pieces of art that were displayed a century ago.
The exhibit opens Saturday at the de Young Museum.
“Clearly we can only scratch the surface, but we want to give people an experience that recaptures, reproduces the experience of fairgoers in 1915,” said James Ganz, curator of the Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts for the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.
“By bringing the same works of art back to San Francisco, we can actually do that,” he explained.
Ganz has spent the past three years identifying works of art from the fair and securing their loan for the exhibit, as well as writing a catalog that will serve as the standard reference of art from the world’s fair.
“It’s actually pretty powerful. We’re installing the show right now,” Ganz said. “We are literally opening crates and taking objects out of them. Some of these are works that haven’t been here since 1915.”
Jewel City: Art from San Francisco’s Panama-Pacific International Exposition
Oct. 17, 2015 – Jan. 10, 2016
Herbst Exhibition Galleries