Three Japanese sliding door paintings from the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago were found in a park district storage facility, the city announced Wednesday.
The paintings, known as fusama, are attributed to Japanese artist Hashimoto Gaho. They were believed to be missing or destroyed after the fair.
When city officials found them in the storage facility, they initially believed they were displayed during the 1933 World's Fair, but Julia Bachrach, a park district historian, found documentation that indicated they actually date back to the 1893 fair. According to Bachrach, the paintings were displayed in the Phoenix Pavilion on the Wooded Isle.
"The rediscovered paintings remind us of the lush history that lives in Chicago's parks," said Michael Kelly, the CEO and superintendent of the Chicago Park District.
City officials say the sliding doors are in "moderately stable condition," but they will require conservation treatment before being put on display again.
The discovery of the fusama is not the first time officials found precious works of art in the Phoenix Pavilion. In the 1970s, the park district uncovered carved transom panels known as ranma. These works were conserved and put on display at the Art Institute of Chicago in 2011.
It has not been decided where the fusama will be displayed in the future.
"These paintings bring to life, in vivid color, a moment of history that had previously been lost forever," said Janice Katz, associate curator of Japanese art at the Art Institute.