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1893 World’s Parliament of Religions


Photo of 1893 World's Parliament of Religion

The 1893 World’s Parliament of Religions—held in conjunction with the Columbian Exposition in Chicago—took place at the Permanent Memorial Art Palace, now known as the Art Institute of Chicago. The original U-shaped structure framed an open court that had been converted to two assembly halls for the occasion. (The museum’s Fullerton Hall and Woman’s Board Grand Staircase now occupy the site.)

The Parliament opened on September 11, 1893, with international representatives of the world’s religions present. An Indian delegate, Swami Vivekananda, riveted the audience with his call for religious tolerance and an end to fanaticism. Over the next several weeks, thousands of attendees came to hear Swami Vivekananda and other leaders speak, making the Parliament a watershed moment in interfaith dialogue.

Black-and-white photograph of a group of men, some with headdresses, seated on a stage. Among them is Swami Vivekananda, a young medium-skinned man with wide eyes.

Vivekananda at the 1893 World’s Parliament of Religions

To mark the anniversary of Swami Vivekananda’s landmark address and in remembrance of the terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon 108 years later on that very date, September 11, Indian artist Jitish Kallat created Public Notice 3, a site-specific installation on the Art Institute’s Woman’s Board Grand Staircase.

On January 28, 2012, the Art Institute of Chicago, in conjunction with the Republic of India, reinstalled a plaque commemorating Vivekananda’s landmark speech outside Fullerton Hall.


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