Comparative Studies in Society and History

The World On Exhibition

The World as Exhibition

Timothy Mitchella1

a1 New York University

The Egyptian delegation to the Eighth International Congress of Orientalists, held in Stockholm during the summer of 1889, traveled to Sweden via Paris and paused there to visit the World Exhibition. The four Egyptians spent several days in the French capital, climbing twice the height (they were told) of the Great Pyramid in Alexandre Eiffel's new tower, and exploring the city and exhibition laid out beneath. Only one thing disturbed them. The Egyptian exhibit had been built by the French to represent a street of medieval Cairo, made of houses with overhanging upper stories and a mosque like that of Qaitbay. “It was intended,” one of the Egyptians wrote, “to resemble the old aspect of Cairo.” So carefully was this done, he noted, that “even the naivt nn the bildings was made dirty.”