Friday, February 27, 2015

Pan Pacific International Exposition 100th Anniversary Party

A wedding party photo shoot was interrupted by hordes of visitors to architect Bernard Maybeck's Palace of Fine Arts complex last Saturday.

The crowds had arrived at the Palace, which looks like an improbable realization of a Maxfield Parrish painting, for a 100th anniversary celebration of the 1915 Pan Pacific International Exposition, in which the buildings were featured.

Outdoor entertainment under the rotunda was provided by everything from Hawaiian dancers to SF Opera Adler Fellow singers belting out arias.

The event began with a dull speech at noon from Mayor Ed Lee that had something to do with innovation and entrepreneurship before the doors were thrown open to the large, curved pavilion which has now been reconstituted as the "Innovation Hangar."

The festivities and the many booths at the SF Recrecation & Park sponsored event were an odd mix...

...ranging from history displays, complete with costumed attendees... a food court that included expensive Berry White smoothies.

Various city funded departments were represented, including the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, where former newspaper columnist Ken Garcia above, the C.W. Nevius of his time, was helping out with the children's art space. Garcia abandoned journalism a few years back and became the "Director of Government and Community Affairs" for the museums, which essentially means that he is Board President Dede Wilsey's personal flack.

There were also historic props from corporate sponsors scattered about, such as a Wells Fargo stagecoach and Model A's from the Ford Motor Company next to representatives from the current Maker Faire and booths hawking wearable technology.

One of the more amusing interactive events was for children. It was set up as a combination Houdini and hacking competition, where two groups were locked into glass cubes and had to untangle a mathematical puzzle to escape before the other.

The losers were bombarded with a blizzard of ping pong balls while the winner exulted outside.

Any initiative from the famously dysfunctional SF Rec & Park Department is a dubious prospect from the outset, but maybe the place will accidentally become a cool place on its own, rather like the early days of the Exploratorium which occupied the pavilion for decades before they moved to the waterfront and started charging $29 admission. The Innovation Hangar will be open through at least next year, from 10AM to 5PM Wednesday through Sunday, and admission is free. The marvelous building is worth checking out for its architectural merits alone.


Unknown said...

I cover SF events for a living and this is the first I've heard of this one.

Civic Center said...

Dear Marybeth: That's interesting. I forget how I stumbled into the info, but yes, the PR was pretty inadequate.

Axel Feldheim said...

I'm glad you made it to this. I wanted to go but had to be somewhere else that afternoon. It looks like it was a bit of a circus!

I found out about this through the Mechanics' Institute (I'm a member), which is hosting some fair centennial events.

Hattie said...

I am getting to be such a grump. I liked the Palace of Fine Arts better when it was a ruin.

Unknown said...

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