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Explore the 1904 World's Fair

The Missouri Historical Society worked with Webster Groves native Brian Roash to reimagine the 1904 World's Fair Exhibit.

Brian Roash can build a computer model with one hand while spray painting an art wall with the other. He's helped create incredible destinations all over the world from the St. Louis Zoo to SeaWorld Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.  
 
Brian, a Webster Groves native, is a designer and art director at PGAV Destinations. He helps bring the stories within museums, zoos, and theme parks to life. "We are storytellers. We think deeply about the visitors. What do they want to see and feel and take away?" said Brian. "One of the most meaningful parts of my job is helping families make memories together. It allows me to use my art in a meaningful way." 
 
Recently, Brain helped bring the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis to life in a new way. While you may have read about the Fair, seen it depicted in movies and paintings, or heard stories about the grand promenades and buildings glowing with electric bulbs, it's hard to imagine its full scope and grandeur. There are also elements of the Fair beyond the opulence that have not fully been told. 
 
The Missouri Historical Society sought to reimagine the 1904 World's Fair Exhibit at the Missouri History Museum on a scale that would transport visitors back in time and provide a more detailed look into history. They looked to PGAV Destinations, a global leader in themed entertainment headquartered in St. Louis, to help them develop a more tangible and comprehensive look at the Fair.

The centerpiece of the new exhibit is a scale model that allows visitors to explore the Fair's sprawling 1,200 acres, featuring over 300 3-D crafted structures. Historical maps, photographs, and other references were used to replicate the structures. Brian led the 3D aspects of the project, demonstrating his and the team's commitment to historical accuracy and attention to detail. "There were no blueprints, no architectural plans, and in some cases, we were imagining entire parts of buildings that we couldn't see in the photos and paintings. It allowed us to flex our artistic eye to ensure the buildings were authentic," Brian said. 

An animated color landscape is projected onto the model giving it movement and interest. Visitors watch as the 1904 World's Fair comes to life. Animated streetcars chug through the fair, and boat parades float throughout the Grand Basin. All the while, clouds float by and flocks of birds fly over the exhibition palaces. Hot air balloons bob in the wind over what is now the campus of Washington University, where the 1904 Olympics were taking place. 

"My favorite day was the exhibit opening. I loved watching people experience it because the detail blew them away. In many cases, you'll look at the 3D model of the Alps and the Bavarian Village and then look up and see an actual photo from 1904. Visitors feel more in touch with what it would have been like to walk through The Pike and take in the grandness of it all." 
 
While the exhibit showcases the fair's opulence, it also aims to portray the whole story honestly. Media pieces share untold stories and address challenging aspects, including the Fair's "human zoo" and issues of segregation. This narrative unfolds with sensitivity, allowing visitors to connect with history deeper and more meaningfully. 

"We are storytellers. That is at the very heart of PGAV. Adults will experience the World's Fair in a completely new way. Kids of all ages will be blown away by what once drew people from all over the world to a place they know so well," said Brian. 

The Missouri Historical Society sought to reimagine the 1904 World's Fair Exhibit at the Missouri History Museum on a scale that would transport visitors back in time and provide a more detailed look at history. Brian Roash helped bring the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis to life in a new way.

The Missouri History Museum, a gift to our city from the proceeds raised at the Fair, is open every Tuesday through Sunday. Regular hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., with Twilight Thursdays adding extended hours from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

The Missouri History Museum is located in Forest Park, at 5700 Lindell Boulevard.

www.MoHistory.org

You can learn more about PGAV Destinations at PGAVDestinations.com

  • Brian Roash
  • Brian Roash