Press Release

The Tushanwan Pagodas: Models from the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition


CONTACT: Charles Schuler
Director of Communications
San Francisco International Airport


The Tushanwan Pagodas: Models from the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition
New exhibition features seventy-nine hand-carved models exhibited together for the first time since their original presentation a century ago


SAN FRANCISCO -- A century ago, San Francisco hosted a world’s fair that drew more than eighteen million visitors to a 635-acre wonderland of exhibits constructed along the city’s northern bay shore. The Panama-Pacific International Exposition, officially a celebration of the recently completed Panama Canal, was a characteristically audacious demonstration of the city’s remarkable recovery from the devastating earthquake and fire of 1906. Domed palaces housing international exhibitions of art, culture, and industry represented a microcosm of the world at large.

The Chinese Republic, barely three years old, was a key participant in the fair with a two-and-a-half acre pavilion that included a pagoda, an elaborately carved gateway, two teahouses, and a replica of Beijing’s Hall of Supreme Harmony. China was also well represented in the Palace of Education, which featured an exhibition of remarkable craftsmanship by teenage boys and young men instructed in woodworking at Shanghai’s Tushanwan orphanage—eighty-four hand-carved models of extant pagodas located throughout China. Now, for the first time since their original presentation at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in 1915, the Tushanwan pagodas are exhibited together for visitors to the city in which they debuted. The models stand as intrinsically compelling examples of fine craftsmanship, while reminding us of a remarkable episode of transcultural exchange that occurred one hundred years ago.

All objects are presented courtesy of the Jeffries Family Private Collection. SFO Museum is grateful to Mee-Seen Loong and William Ma for their generous assistance with this exhibition; and to Brother Daniel Peterson, Province Archivist at Santa Clara University; Susan Goldstein, City Archivist at the San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library; Patricia L. Keats, Director of the Library and Archives at the Society of California Pioneers, and Clay-Edward Dixon, Head of Collection Development at the Flora Lamson Hewlett Library of the Graduate Theological Union. Special thanks to Tom DeCaigny, Director of Cultural Affairs, San Francisco Arts Commission, and Jill Manton, Director of Public Art Trust and Special Initiatives, San Francisco Arts Commission, for introducing this collection to SFO Museum.

View the exhibition online.

The Tushanwan Pagodas: Models from the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition is located in the International Terminal Main Hall Departures Lobby, San Francisco International Airport, from April 4 2015, to October 25, 2015. The exhibition is located prior to security checkpoints and is accessible for all Airport visitors. There is no charge to view the exhibition.

This exhibition is part of the citywide centennial celebration of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition. For more information on related events and programming scheduled by San Francisco’s cultural, civic, and historical organizations throughout the year, please visit the Panama-Pacific International Exhibition website.


SFO Museum

SFO Museum was established by the Airport Commission in 1980 for the purposes of humanizing the Airport environment, providing visibility for the unique cultural life of San Francisco, and providing educational services for the traveling public. The Museum was granted initial accreditation from the American Association of Museums in 1999, reaccredited in 2005, and has the distinction of being the only accredited museum in an airport. Today, SFO Museum features approximately twenty galleries throughout the Airport terminals displaying a rotating schedule of art, history, science, and cultural exhibitions, as well as the San Francisco Airport Commission Aviation Library and Louis A. Turpen Aviation Museum, a permanent collection dedicated to the history of commercial aviation. To browse current and past exhibitions, research our collection, or for more information, please visit


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