The 1851 London World's Fair: Into the Exhibits with Dr. Jennie Hirsh
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Covering four major themes--manufactured goods, raw materials, fine arts, and products--the exhibition realized within the primarily cast iron and glass structure temporarily erected in Hyde Park emphasized culture and industry together as key elements of modern society along with the importance of Free Trade, which became important when the Corn Laws were abolished in 1846. With half of the content of the show from Britain herself, the Great Exhibition sought to assert Britain's importance as an industrial nation poised to rival other advanced continental countries. At the same time, the show itself sought to outdo smaller ventures sponsored by France and Germany in the 1840s.
Foregrounding national, international, and colonial exhibits, the combination of which established patterns for future events, the Great Exhibition sold more than 6 million entrance tickets, first to members of the upper classes and, eventually, when the prices were reduced, to working-class people as well. Deemed a success on many fronts at the time and since, the fair's revenues would fund the creation of a number of important museums, including the Victoria and Albert and Natural History museums in South Kensington. Through plans and other illustrations, we will study the organization and planning of the fair, the Crystal Palace (and its fate), and key examples of the displays included in this historical event.
Led by an expert on modern and contemporary art and architecture, Dr. Jennie Hirsh, this Conversation will consider the ways in which the London exhibition of 1851 set standards and trends for future World's Fairs. Designed to inform curiosity as well as future travels, participants will come away with an increased understanding of the historical roots of this genre of exposition as well as enthusiasm for learning about subsequent fairs in Europe and beyond.
This seminar has been designed to be enjoyed as a standalone experience or as part of Dr. Hirsh's extended series spotlighting each World's Fair in turn. For more details, click here.
Jennie Hirsh (Ph.D., Bryn Mawr College) is a Professor of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Maryland Institute College of Art. She has held postdoctoral fellowships at Princeton and Columbia Universities, as well as pre-doctoral fellowships from the Mrs. Giles Whiting Foundation, the U.S. Fulbright Commission, the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, and the Wolfsonian FIU. Hirsh has authored essays on artists including Giorgio de Chirico, Giorgio Morandi, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Yinka Shonibare, and Regina Silveira, and is co-editor, with Isabelle Wallace, of Contemporary Art and Classical Myth (Ashgate 2011).
This conversation is suitable for all ages.
90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.
Delighted to learn about another world's fair.
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