Astonishing Science. Spectacular museum.
Publications from national and international exhibitions, expositions, world's fairs and festivals
International exhibitions (also known as Expositions or World’s Fairs) can be considered as one of the hallmarks of nineteenth century civilisation. Their origins lay in small national exhibitions of the eighteenth century. However, by the late nineteenth century their scale had increased significantly. Nations displayed their industrial and artistic achievements to huge audiences. Vast amounts of money were spent sending thousands of examples of the latest technology and art around the world. For many, the international exhibition was their first experience of foreign cultures and peoples.
The Exhibition Literature Collection contains many examples of literature from 149 national and international exhibitions, including:
It is particularly strong in British, French and American exhibitions although other countries events are well represented.
London exhibitions include those held on the Science Museum’s South Kensington site: International Fisheries Exhibition (1883); International Health Exhibition (1884); International Inventions Exhibition (1885); and, exhibitions held at the White City in West London: Imperial-Royal Austrian Exhibition (1906); Franco-British Exhibition (1908); Japan-British Exhibition (1910); and those held elsewhere in London including the British Empire Exhibition (1924 & 1925 : Wembley) and the 1951 Festival of Britain.
A complete list of exhibitions is available.
The coloured engravings in some commemorative publications have been digitised including
Dickinson's comprehensive pictures of the Great Exhibition of 1851
Treasures of art, industry and manufacture represented in the American Centennial Exhibition at Philadelphia 1876
The Rare Books Collection also contains catalogues from the first four French national industrial exhibitions (1798-1806); a collection of Prospectuses of Exhibitors from the 1851 Great Exhibition; and, Printed Documents and Forms for the International Exhibition held in London in 1862.
The collection is complemented by the Smithsonian Institution’s microfilmed collection The Books of the Fairs (held at SML London).