The world opened like an oyster to the 19th century tourist. Until the 19th century, only the wealthy upper classes had the time and resources to travel. But beginning in the 19th century, lavish state-sponsored expositions brought the experience of travel to the factory workers of Western Europe who could visit Tahiti, France and the United States—taste their food and buy souvenirs—in a single afternoon, without missing a workday. These sensational exhibitions promoted attention-getting attractions to tempt the eyeballs of visitors: fine art, gun showcases, unusual animals and human zoos to name just a few. This instantly changed who was able to collect art and the type of art that was being collected. Focusing on travel and tourism in 19th century Japan, France, England and Italy, my lectures will outline how cultures were repackaged and presented in an image that could be collected and traded, liberating artists to experiment with new materials, find new inspiration and discover new ways to make art.
Kimberly Johnson is an American art historian, currently teaching at the UofA and NorQuest College. Kimberly regularly travels to Europe on research trips, to give invited guest lectures and to present at conferences. She relishes every second she can spend inside a museum no matter where in the world she is.