Frazier History Museum


The Southern Exposition and the Satellites of Mercury in the Champagne Parlor

A new addition to the second floor of the Frazier Museum is the champagne parlor, which doubles as an event space and an exhibit about the Southern Exposition (1883-1887) and the Satellites of Mercury Festival that succeeded it. The Southern Exposition was an annual, World’s Fair-like civic convention in Louisville for which Pres. Chester A. Arthur presided over the opening ceremony. The world traveled to Louisville to discover innovation through the first successful nighttime fair. The 1883 Southern Exhibition was illuminated by former Louisville resident Thomas Edison, who personally managed the installation of the recently invented incandescent light bulbs. The 4,600 bulbs used at the fair outnumbered the total number of bulbs in all of New York City at the time! Included in the exhibit are facsimiles of applications, broadsides, cards, envelopes, hand-painted invitations, receipts, and welcome notes pertaining to the Expo and the Satellites of Mercury; an original, school-assigned essay by an adolescent student about her trip to the Expo; Gilded Age glassworks and kitchenware, day dresses, and a bicycle; fragments of the St. James Court fountain; and a “Salon-style” wall of paintings.