FOUND: Painted Japanese Doors from the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition - Atlas Obscura
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FOUND: Painted Japanese Doors from the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition

One of three newly found paintings (Photo: Chicago Park District)

In 1892, Japanese workers began building a pavilion on the Wooded Island of Chicago’s Jackson Park. The next year, as part of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, the Phoenix Pavilion opened to the public. Its design was based on one of the most famous temples in Japan, and inside the rooms were stocked with Japanese furniture, objects and art. After the exposition was over, Japan left some of those treasures to Chicago — including a set of sliding door paintings that were soon lost 

This week, the Chicago Mayor’s office announced that those paintings had been found, in a storage facility of the Park districts. The three paintings were in “moderately stable condition,” although darkened by age. But it should still be possible to restore the paintings and maybe even display them.

The Phoenix Pavilion (Photo: Public domain)

The paintings were attributed to the artist Hashimoto Gaho. The doors were made of an inner wooden skeleton, a layer of paper, and then the painting, all set in a frame that could fit into the sliders of a house. 

As NBC Chicago reports, this is “not the first time officials found precious works of art in the Phoenix Pavilion.” A few decades back, they found carved transom panels that were later displayed at a Chicago art museum. 

Cities often have a difficult time keeping track of the art that they own: Chicago is lucky that someone found these works of art before they had deteriorated so much they couldn’t be restored. 

Bonus finds: An ancient iguanaa 2,000-year-old egg

Every day, we highlight one newly lost or found object, curiosity or wonder. Discover something unusual or amazing? Tell us about it! Send your finds to sarah.laskow@atlasobscura.com.