In 1884, the Imperial Maritime Customs Agency of China shipped a massive installation of objects to New Orleans for display in the “New Orleans Exposition.” The theme of the exposition, one of many late 19th-century World’s Fairs, was textiles. The Chinese exhibition included hundreds of sewn garments, fabric samples, textile-making tools, and raw materials, as well as a range of other items (see Day 8). When the fair ended, the entire collection came to the University of Michigan. This large wooden panel was used to stamp designs onto textiles. It is carved on both sides: the side on the left contains a complex botanical motif and the side on the right holds two medallions. Traces of indigo blue dye are still evident. The Imperial Maritime Customs Agency prepared exhibits for many late 19th–early 20th century World’s Fair, but the Museum’s collection of more than 2000 objects from the New Orleans Exposition display is the only known largely intact collection of its kind.
In honor of the University of Michigan’s 2017 bicentennial, we are celebrating the remarkable archaeological and ethnographic collections and rich legacy of research and teaching at the Museum of Anthropological Archaeology by posting one entry a day for 200 days. The entries will highlight objects from the collections, museum personalities, and UMMAA expeditions. The Kelsey Museum of Archaeology is also posting each day for 200 days on Twitter and Facebook (follow along at #KMA200). After the last post, an exhibition on two centuries of archaeology at U-M opens at the Kelsey. Visit the exhibit—a joint project of the UMMAA and the Kelsey—from October 18, 2017 to May 27, 2018.