Smithsonian Participates in Panama-Pacific Exposition




Date: February 20 - December 4, 1915


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  • The Panama-Pacific International Exposition (PPIE) was a World's Fair held in San Francisco, in the United States, between February 20 and December 4 in 1915. Its ostensible purpose was to celebrate the completion of the Panama Canal and the 400th anniversary of Vasco Núñez de Balboa's discovery of the Pacific; but it was widely seen in the city as an opportunity to showcase San Francisco's recovery from the 1906 earthquake. The fair was constructed on a 635 acre (2.6 km²) site in San Francisco, along the northern shore now known as the Marina.
  • The Smithsonian participated in the exposition, focusing its exhibits on ethnology. William deC. Ravenel, an administrative assistant at the Smithsonian, served as the Smithsonian's official representative to the Panama-Pacific International Exposition. Other Smithsonian displays contained examples from the Institution's collections, publications, and many branches: pictures, publications, charts, photographs, instruments, a reproduction of the Langley experimental aeroplane, a group of taxidermy elk, four life-size ethnological models of family groups from around the world, and an immense exhibit of the stages of the "physical history of man."


Panama-Pacific Exposition (1915: San Francisco, California)


Chronology of Smithsonian History


  • Image is a sketch of Smithsonian exhibits at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition, Negative Number SIA2012-2862, Record Unit 45, Box 22, Folder: 11.
  • Smithsonian Institution Archives Record Unit 70, Finding Aid

Contact information

Institutional History Division, Smithsonian Institution Archives, 600 Maryland Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C. 20024-2520,


February 20 - December 4, 1915


  • Ethnology
  • Exhibitions
  • San Francisco, California
  • Expositions

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