The era of anthropological exhibitions



In the last quarter of the 19th century, ‘human zoos’ are commonplace, featured in all expositions. Troupes and impresarios travel across Europe and the Atlantic. ‘Anthropological villages’ go from town to town and professional troupes emerge, offering a widening view of the diversity of the world.

The so-called ‘savage’ is everywhere, and the West constructs a stereotypical version of a world where ‘Aboriginals’, ‘Fuegians’, ‘Pygmies’, ‘Redskins’, and many others were presented as ‘inferior races’. Paris (1889), Chicago (1893), Lyon (1894), Geneva (1896), Brussels-Tervuren (1897), Berlin (1899), Osaka (1903), Saint-Louis (1904), Brussels (1910)… are notable for being immense ‘human zoos’ in the three decades before the First World War.