Centennial Exhibition Opens in Philadelphia

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The Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia officially opens to the public. On the first day the exhibition is open it has 186,672 visitors. When Congress drafted the appropriation for the government exhibits at the Centennial Exhibition, they suggested it was considered a loan, and if income from the exhibition was sufficient for the loan to be repaid, Congress would then allow part of those funds to be used to construct a National Museum Building. The exhibition did well financially and on March 3, 1879, $250,000 was appropriated for building the National Museum, what is now the Arts and Industries Building. At the close of the exhibition, Spencer F. Baird convinced many exhibitors to donate their artifacts and specimens to the National Museum. The museum acquired some 62 boxcars of materials in 4000 cartons.


  • Baird, Spencer Fullerton 1823-1887
  • United States Congress
  • United States National Museum
  • Arts and Industries Building)
  • Centennial Exhibition (1876 : Philadelphia, Pa.)


Chronology of Smithsonian History


Rydell, Robert W. "All the World's a Fair: Visions of Empire at American International Expositions, 1876-1916." Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1984, p.10

Contact information

Institutional History Division, Smithsonian Institution Archives, 600 Maryland Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20024-2520, SIHistory@si.edu


May 10, 1876


  • Finance
  • National Collections.)
  • Exhibitions
  • Exhibit openings
  • Expenditures, Public


Philadelphia (Pa.)

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