Minerals & More
The rocks, minerals, and fossils featured at the Fair provide examples of how these objects were understood—or misunderstood—at the time. Although the sciences were rapidly developing, displays mostly treated geologic collections as curiosities or resources, not scientific specimens.
For instance, in 1893 people knew that meteorites came from outer space, but superstitions still lingered. Some meteorites were thought to be good omens, while others were considered cursed. (Today, Field Museum scientists have analyzed the chemical compositions of several Fair specimens to learn about the formation of our solar system and the history of our galaxy.)
Fossils at the Fair were recognized as remnants of Earth’s past, but many were presented in the context of mining and fossil fuel. And although dinosaurs were a recent discovery, only one made an appearance—a cast of Hadrosaurus foulkii that was already outdated and incorrect by Opening Day.
After the Fair, the newly founded Museum hired paleontologist Elmer Riggs to find more animal fossils. His discoveries launched our world-renowned collections, and today, our scientists use new technologies to unlock information about how life on Earth evolved.