The Panama Pacific International Exposition celebrated the opening of the Panama Canal, which after years of engineering problems finally opened in 1914. The spectacular character of the exhibition was also intended to draw attention to the rebuilt San Francisco, which had been razed to the ground in a deadly earthquake in 1906. The World’s Fair offered aeroplane shows, modern steam engines, telephone contact with New York and national pavilions. The Norwegian pavilion was designed by the architect Carl Berner and presented a selection of the most important Norwegian industries, such as shipping, fisheries and manufacturing.

The art exhibitions were located in a separate building: The Palace of Fine Arts, which is the only building that remains standing after the World’s Fair. In addition to the USA and a common international section, there were individual national sections for Argentina, Cuba, The Philippines, France, Italy, Japan, China, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Sweden and Uruguay.

The Committee for the Norwegian art section consisted of Consul Fredrik Herman Gade, together with the diplomat Wilhelm von Munthe af Morgenstierne and the art and photography critic John Nilsen Laurvik. Of the 50 Norwegian painters who exhibited, Harald Sohlberg was awarded the medal of honour, while Halfdan Strøm received the gold medal.