At the World's Fair

In the "Development Room" of the Anthropology Building. PM 93-1-10/100264.1.1

Set in explicit contrast to the peoples and cultures displayed around them, the statues’ striking portrayals of proper white masculinity and femininity drew large crowds. The woman looked down demurely, her genitals erased, her back foot lifted tentatively and leg slightly bent, a pose borrowed from classical sculpture. The man stood erect, feet planted firmly on the ground, gaze straight ahead, the presence of his genitals emphasized by the fig leaf covering them. On display in the Anthropology Building, the woman was positioned behind the man. Viewers lauded their perfection as “the Harvard Adam and Eve,” “the perfect physical man,” and the “Harvard Venus.” Others, however, were concerned that the “typical woman” was fragile but without grace, her upper half ill-formed. At a time when debates over women’s education were particularly fraught, the sculptures appeared to some viewers to demonstrate its dangers.