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Anthropological exhibition - Expo Paris 1878

Anthropological exhibition at the Exhibition Expo Paris 1878

The exhibition of anthropological sciences certainly had a respectable number of visitors, but this number would have been much greater if it had not been relegated to the extreme border of Passy, and if, in order to reach it, it had not been necessary to go up and down a whole series of stairs.

For the visitors, who did not suspect its existence, it was forced to remain unknown.

And yet, what an attraction it was from the point of view of human history! Frankly, it deserved to be better placed.

A first room, says M. Philibert Brébant, in the XIXth Century, is specially assigned to our school of anthropology, the only one in the world today. This school has six professors who each give more than forty courses a year. There is a course of anthropology in England, but only one teacher, Mr. Blower, teaches there and gives four or five courses a year; the formation of a course in Russia is also announced.

In this first room are exhibited all the French and foreign craniological instruments, microscopic preparations for the study of skin and hair, all the brains of races and studies, the material of the courses, groups of skeletons, medical statistics, albums and photographs of all human races, mummies, etc.

In the large room, there is an interesting collection of perforated skulls and cranial disks from the excavations of Dr. Prunières in Lozère, objects from the dolmens of Morbihan, and an endless series, unique in the world, of objects from the Stone Age and the Bronze Age; there is an inexhaustible mine of work and research for our scholars. This same room contains Russian ethnography, the anthropological exhibition of England, Portugal, and Spain (the latter very beautiful and very interesting) and finally the objects sent by the Polish Anthropological Society, which, especially for this last science, contains some very curious things, among others a series of all the costumes of the districts of Galicia and the gypsy ethnography, with which M. Paul Bataillard is so interested. Let us not forget the original collection of Japanese types by M. Régamey and African types by M. de la Landelle.

Finally, a special room is devoted to ethnographic objects sent by Austria, and we can see numerous pieces of pottery, fabrics, furniture, earthenware, bronze objects, and very ingenious field sections showing how deep and how such and such a skeleton from such and such a period was found.

These rooms are decorated in a very artistic way thanks to the collection of busts and polychrome statues in bronze and marble, by Mr. Cordier, scattered everywhere and whose ensemble reproduces, as we know, most Asian and African types.

At this interesting exhibition, Finland was widely represented.

One could admire the magnificent collection of skulls of Finnish origin, exhibited by the anatomy museum of the University.

Lapps, Tàvastians, Ostrobathnians, Savo-laxians, Karelians, Esthonians, all the races were there, and the catalogue, written by the director of the museum, Mr. Conrad Hallsten, indicated for each race the various dimensions of the cranial and facial region.

©Les Merveilles de l'Exposition de 1878