Golden Gate Expo mural flying high

Island during the 1939 Golden Gate International Exposition and later hung in the Ferry Building is a “big-ticket” item at a national museum exhibit in Washington, D.C., this fall.

“Native Means of Transportation in the Pacific Area” was painted by Miguel Covarrubias, who’s known for his caricatures that defined The New Yorker and Vanity Fair covers during the first half of the 19th century.

It’s an abstract, aerial snapshot of the world with travelers rowing canoes, flying a seaplane and riding bareback on cattle among other mobile vestiges relevant to the time.

And it’s appearing again at the National Building Museum’s “Designing Tomorrow: America’s World’s Fairs of the 1930s,” starting Oct. 2, for the first time since it was taken down from the Ferry Building during construction in 2000.

“It’s one of the big-ticket items, one of our main attractions,” museum spokeswoman Tara Miller said.

The 15-by-24-foot mural will be displayed among more than 200 other items from fairs in Chicago, San Diego, Cleveland and Dallas.

Other Golden Gate International Exposition artifacts include prominent architect Bernard Maybeck’s original drawings of the fair and an aerial snapshot of when it was under construction.

The fair took place during the Great Depression, but tens of millions flocked from around the world to visit.

Covarrubias’ piece is one among a series of six titled “Pageant of the Pacific,” and it was hand-picked by the museum’s curators because it’s a visual example of transportation methods during that time, according to the island’s operating director.

“It’s a piece of traveling art,” said Mirian Saez, Treasure Island operating director. “It speaks to how well people love to look into the past and see what kinds of great things came from world fairs.”

Among Covarrubias’ murals, three are on display in San Jose’s City Hall, one is in the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park and the last “disappeared” in the 1950s.

“It was sent to a museum in New York and never came back,” Saez said.

IF YOU GO

Designing Tomorrow: America’s World’s Fairs of the 1930s

Where: National Building Museum, Washington, D.C.
When: Oct. 2 to July 10
Featured exhibit: Miguel Covarrubias’ “Native Means of Transportation in the Pacific Area”

Source: National Building Museum

kkelkar@sfexaminer.com

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