Asia Society Texas Center


Saturday, May. 16, 2015 – Sunday, Sep. 27, 2015

In the summer of 1890, two young Americans, William Sachtleben and Thomas Allen, Jr., set off to circle the globe on bicycles, which are familiar to us today but at the time were heralded as innovations in safety because of the instability of the common “high-wheelers” of the era. Three years later, after pedaling some 18,000 miles on three continents, their harrowing tales of adventure made them international celebrities (“the greatest travelers since Marco Polo,” by one glowing account).

Their timely championing of the bicycle helped to spark the great bike boom of the mid-1890s, which would transform cycling from an elitist, male-dominated pastime into a wildly popular means of recreation and transportation for all. Along the way, Sachtleben and Allen chronicled their adventures with two novel compact Kodak film cameras, signaling a new “democratic” era for photography, as well.

The exhibition features a selection of these striking images, taken from a year on the road visiting Greece, Turkey, Persia (today Iran), and a portion of the Russian Empire (Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan). The images vividly convey what the two adventurers experienced as they pedaled across barren dirt roads, river crossings, mountain passes, and volcanic terrains, encountering peoples and cultures entirely foreign to them. The scenes of everyday life also reflect how the locals—many of whom had never before seen a Westerner or a bicycle—reacted to them and to the state-of-the-art technologies that were destined to change ancient ways of life.

Image: William Sachtieben's Humber bicycle at rest in Constantinople draws a crowd of spectators. Background: Hagia Sophia and Thomas Allen on his bicycle. March 21, 1891. Collection of the UCLA Library Special Collections.

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  • Tuesday - Friday, 11:00 am - 6:00 pm
    Saturday & Sunday, 10:00 am - 6:00 pm
    Closed Mondays and major holidays
  • Free Hours: Admission to the building and Grand Hall exhibition is free. Admission to the Louisa Stude Sarofim Gallery is free for Asia Society members; $8 for nonmembers.

Directions & Parking

  • Free Parking
  • Paid Parking
  • Street Parking
  • Parking in Asia Society Texas Center's lot is $5 for 1-24 hours. Entrances on Caroline and Austin. Limited free and paid street parking also available.

Special Offers / Dining

An India-Inspired Café
Enjoy breakfast and lunch at Pondi! Pondicheri's museum café is open for extended lunch hours Tuesday through Sunday with a vibrant and innovative menu featuring everything from butter chicken to saffron shrimp salad and roti wraps.
Tuesday – Friday, 11 am – 5 pm
Saturday – Sunday, 10 am – 5 pm


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