William P. Wilson (1844–1927)

In 1893 William P. Wilson, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, attended the World Fair in Chicago and suggested the development of a permanent World Fair museum about the merits of international trade. He purchased much of the fair's exhibits as a basis for the Philadelphia Commercial Museum that opened four years later. The purpose of the museum paralleled Count von Linden’s museum in Stuttgart, first conceived in 1889 and funded by the Württemberg association for commercial geography. Wilson therefore soon entered into an exchange relationship with the Linden-Museum. After the American conquest of the Philippines, the US government appointed Wilson together with Gustav Niederlein to a curatorial board that was to create a Philippine exposition for the 1904 World Fair, where it was to provide public justification for the American “civilizing mission” there. They displayed Cordillerans and members of other indigenous groups in a human zoo and had them perform rituals and dances for the visitors of the world fair. Wilson was first appointed to chair the board, but later discharged because the government was not satisfied with his work. He could, however, secure some of the objects on display for his museum and some as of his exchange partners including count von Linden.