Berliner Gewerbeausstellung 1896
The incubator baby exhibit (“Der Kinder-Brutanstalt”) at the Berlin Industrial Show (“Berliner Gewerbeausstellung”) in 1896 was held in the Treptower Park. It received more international publicity than its predecessors in Lyon (1894) and Amsterdam (1895), and it spawned many imitators, including the sideshows at the Trans-Mississippi Exposition, the Chicago Century of Progress Exhibition, the Pan American Exposition, the New York World’s Fair, and Coney Island.
The drawing above is from a German newspaper, the similar engraving below is from the Illustrated London News.
The exhibit had six incubators. It was organized and managed by Dr. Alexandre Lion, who had been caring for premature infants in incubators of his own design and charging admission to subsidize his nurseries in Nice, Paris, Lyons, Marseilles, and Bordeaux since at least 1891. Although Martin Couney claimed in later years that he had managed the exhibit on behalf of Pierre Budin, the contemporary news item in the Official Exhibit News and a story in the Illustrated London News both indicate that the exhibitor was Alexandre Lion.
“The Children’s Incubation Institute continues to arouse lively interest amongst the visitors to the trade exhibition and has spurned the invitation to become a permanent institution in Berlin, we were told. A committee, which is in the process of being formed, includes some renowned professors, amongst them one of the most influential gynecologists in Berlin, and has taken it upon itself to find the necessary financial means to found such an infants’ asylum. It will be modeled after the Children’s Incubation Center at the exhibition. It will house mainly weak and prematurely born children in the incubator constructed by Mr Lion. Mr Lion announced to the committee that he will donate the necessary incubators for this asylum. A brochure readily available for distribution since yesterday afternoon contains interesting data regarding the stigmata of prematurely born children and an exact description of Mr Lion’s incubator and its use. In addition, the pamphlet includes evaluations by Privy Counselor Professor Gusserow, medical director of the University Women’s Clinic, and by Professor Rudolph Virchow. Both scholars endorse the value of the Lion’s incubator through their expert opinions especially composed for this brochure, as does the renowned Berlin neurologist Professor Albert Eulenburg, who during a visit to the French Riviera, came across the ‘Maternite Lion’ in Nice.” — Translated from the “Official Exhibit News” (1896) by Julia Whitefield, MD, PhD, and quoted in “Martin Couney’s Story Revisited,” Pediatrics 100(1):159-160, July 1997.
A map of the exhibition and some contemporary photographs are found below.
- Official Catalog of the Berlin Industrial Exhibition
- Wikipedia entry for the Berlin Industrial Exhibition
- Dr. Alexandre Lion
- The Lion Incubator
- Oeuvre Maternelle des Couveuses d’Enfants, Paris
- Oeuvre Maternelle des Couveuses d’Enfants, New York
- Oeuvre Maternelle des Couveuses d’Enfants, Barcelona
- La Maternité “Lion de Nice” pour Enfants Nés Avant Terme ou Débiles, by Dr. Ciaudo, 1895.
- Les Couveuses pour Enfants, Gazette Médicale de Paris, 1900
- Couveuses d’Enfants, La Maternité Lion, Paris, La Patrie, 1897
- Baby Incubators, The Strand Magazine, 1896, by James Walter Smith
- Human Infant Incubation: A True Fairy-Tale of Modern Science from Leslie’s Weekly, 1897
- The Saving of Human Life, Maternité Lion in NYC, The Literary Digest, 1898
- Immature Infants in France, from The Lancet, January 16, 1897, page 196.
- Alexandre Lion’s Incubator Charities in Europe (1894–1898) (The Embryo Project)
- Lion Incubators, Literary Digest, 1898
- Oeuvre Maternelle des Couveuses d’Enfants , Paris Institute, Booklet Version #1 (appears to be ~1896)
- Oeuvre Maternelle des Couveuses d’Enfants , Paris Institute, Booklet Version #2 (appears to be ~1901)
- Pamphlet from Alexander Lion’s exhibit at the 1898 exhibition in Torino, Italy. (PDF supplied by Dr. Thijs Gras, Amsterdam)
- Maternité Lion at the Berliner Gewerbeausstellung, 1896
- Maternité Lion at the Bordeaux Exposition of 1895.
- Maternité Lion at the Lyon Exposition Universelle – Le Monde Illustré, 1894
- Maternite Lion at the Ghent Provincial Exposition of 1899
- Maternité Lion at the Paris Exposition Universelle of 1900
- Maternite Lion at the Bordeaux International Maritime Exposition of 1907
- Maternité Lion at the Exposition Internationale de l’Est de la France, Nancy, France, 1909
- Maternité Lion at the Lyon Exposition Universelle et Coloniale, 1894
- Maternité Lion at the Turin L’Esposizione Generale Italiana, 1898
- Maternité Lion at the Brussels Exposition Universelle et Internationale, 1910
- Maternité Lion at the Marseille Exposition Internationale d’Électricité, 1908
- Maternité Lion at the Esposizione Generale Italiana of 1898, Turin, Italy
- Maternite Lion at the Exposition du Centre de la France, Clermont-Ferrand, 1910
- Maternité Lion at the Exposition National Suisse, Geneva, Switzerland, 1896
- Maternité Lion at the Amsterdam World Exposition, 1895
- Maternité Lion at the Brussels International Exposition, 1897