Trans-Siberian Railway Panorama
The Trans-Siberian Railway Panorama was a simulated train ride, using a moving panorama
Panoramic painting
Panoramic paintings are massive artworks that reveal a wide, all-encompassing view of a particular subject, often a landscape, military battle, or historical event. They became especially popular in the 19th Century in Europe and the United States, inciting opposition from writers of Romantic poetry...

, first exhibited at the 1900 Paris Exposition
Exposition Universelle (1900)
The Exposition Universelle of 1900 was a world's fair held in Paris, France, from April 15 to November 12, 1900, to celebrate the achievements of the past century and to accelerate development into the next...

. The panorama itself is also known as The Great Siberian Route: the Main Trans-Siberian Railway.

The Railway Panorama was commissioned by Compagnie Internationale des Wagons Lits, and shown in the Siberian section of the Exposition's Russian pavilion. It recreated the most interesting stages of a journey from Moscow
Moscow is the capital, the most populous city, and the most populous federal subject of Russia. The city is a major political, economic, cultural, scientific, religious, financial, educational, and transportation centre of Russia and the continent...

 to Beijing
Beijing , also known as Peking , is the capital of the People's Republic of China and one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of 19,612,368 as of 2010. The city is the country's political, cultural, and educational center, and home to the headquarters for most of China's...

 on the Trans-Siberian Railway
Trans-Siberian Railway
The Trans-Siberian Railway is a network of railways connecting Moscow with the Russian Far East and the Sea of Japan. It is the longest railway in the world...

. The actual trip would have been 6,300 miles, and taken 14 days, although not all of the tracks were in fact complete by 1900; the simulated experience lasted between 45 minutes and 1 hour.

The installation included three 70-foot-long luxury railway cars, complete with saloons, dining rooms, and bedrooms. The audience would sit in the railway cars, and view the panorama through the windows. Additional spectators could watch from rows of seats placed alongside the cars. The moving panorama was a stage-like area with multiple layers of moving objects and scrolling paintings. The nearest objects were sand, rocks, and boulders attached to a horizontal belt
Conveyor belt
A conveyor belt consists of two or more pulleys, with a continuous loop of material - the conveyor belt - that rotates about them. One or both of the pulleys are powered, moving the belt and the material on the belt forward. The powered pulley is called the drive pulley while the unpowered pulley...

 that moved at a speed of 1000 feet per minute. Next was a low screen painted with shrubs and brush, which moved at 400 feet per minute. Behind that, another screen with paintings of more distant scenery moved at 130 feet per minute. The final screen showed mountains, forests, and cities; it was 25 feet tall and 350 feet long, and moved just 16 feet per minute. The net result of these four layers was to produce a simulated perspective
Perspective (visual)
Perspective, in context of vision and visual perception, is the way in which objects appear to the eye based on their spatial attributes; or their dimensions and the position of the eye relative to the objects...

 of great depth, via motion parallax
Parallax is a displacement or difference in the apparent position of an object viewed along two different lines of sight, and is measured by the angle or semi-angle of inclination between those two lines. The term is derived from the Greek παράλλαξις , meaning "alteration"...

The panorama was created under the direction of Pawel Yakovlevich Pyasetsky. Pyasetsky made numerous sketches and watercolor drawings based on trips along the railway route through Siberia
Siberia is an extensive region constituting almost all of Northern Asia. Comprising the central and eastern portion of the Russian Federation, it was part of the Soviet Union from its beginning, as its predecessor states, the Tsardom of Russia and the Russian Empire, conquered it during the 16th...

 beginning in 1897. Features shown included the cities of Moscow, Omsk
-History:The wooden fort of Omsk was erected in 1716 to protect the expanding Russian frontier along the Ishim and the Irtysh rivers against the Kyrgyz nomads of the Steppes...

, Irkutsk
Irkutsk is a city and the administrative center of Irkutsk Oblast, Russia, one of the largest cities in Siberia. Population: .-History:In 1652, Ivan Pokhabov built a zimovye near the site of Irkutsk for gold trading and for the collection of fur taxes from the Buryats. In 1661, Yakov Pokhabov...

, and Beijing, and the Great Wall of China
Great Wall of China
The Great Wall of China is a series of stone and earthen fortifications in northern China, built originally to protect the northern borders of the Chinese Empire against intrusions by various nomadic groups...

. The panorama was not fully complete until 1903, years after the Paris Exposition. According to a newspaper article and comments of filmmaker Alice Guy-Blaché
Alice Guy-Blaché
Alice Guy-Blaché was a French pioneer filmmaker who was the first female director in the motion picture industry and is considered to be one of the first directors of a fiction film.-Early years:...

, Pyasetsky was also commissioned to make a cinematograph of the trip, which was reportedly shown to Tsar Nikolas II
Nicholas II of Russia
Nicholas II was the last Emperor of Russia, Grand Prince of Finland, and titular King of Poland. His official short title was Nicholas II, Emperor and Autocrat of All the Russias and he is known as Saint Nicholas the Passion-Bearer by the Russian Orthodox Church.Nicholas II ruled from 1894 until...

, but the film was not used in the public exhibit.

The jury at the Paris Exposition awarded the Railway Panorama a Gold Medal, and Pyasetsky received the Order of the Legion of Honor. The exhibit was also shown at the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition
Louisiana Purchase Exposition
The Louisiana Purchase Exposition, informally known as the Saint Louis World's Fair, was an international exposition held in St. Louis, Missouri, United States in 1904.- Background :...

 in St. Louis, Missouri
St. Louis, Missouri
St. Louis is an independent city on the eastern border of Missouri, United States. With a population of 319,294, it was the 58th-largest U.S. city at the 2010 U.S. Census. The Greater St...


The panoramic painting itself still exists, in the collection of the Hermitage Museum
Hermitage Museum
The State Hermitage is a museum of art and culture in Saint Petersburg, Russia. One of the largest and oldest museums of the world, it was founded in 1764 by Catherine the Great and has been opened to the public since 1852. Its collections, of which only a small part is on permanent display,...

 in Saint Petersburg
Saint Petersburg
Saint Petersburg is a city and a federal subject of Russia located on the Neva River at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea...

. In 2004, the Hermitage announced plans to restore, document, and exhibit the painting.
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