Temporary structures and presentation of national contexts
Between evocations and archaeological reconstruction
At the World’s Fairs, significant historical monuments were often reconstructed within the areas dedicated to different countries.
Among the buildings at the International Exhibitions, and in particular the pavilions of the countries of the Arab and Ottoman worlds, the replicas of historical monuments, shown in different national contexts as testimony to their cultural heritage, are particularly noteworthy. With a view to rediscovering the past and in line with the cultural climate at the time, combined with the commercial interests that drove the organisation of these World’s Fairs, reconstruction of the most significant historical monuments, albeit temporary, helped to give the mainly European general public a better idea of the material culture of individual countries. Some of these reconstructions were reused in later years in entirely different environments, such as museum exhibits or teaching aids. The attempt to synthesise human progress at the Paris exhibition of 1889 in the unconvincing exhibit titled “History of Human Habitation” was much less successful, simply because it was seen as misleading and inauthentic.