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Title: Partners in conflict : profits, prizes and politics at the 1851 Great Exhibition
Author: Davies, Michael John
ISNI:       0000 0004 6424 6691
Awarding Body: Birkbeck (University of London)
Current Institution: Birkbeck (University of London)
Date of Award: 2016
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This thesis will argue that the British organisers1 of the 1851 Great Exhibition did not invent the international exhibition format from the outset. The Exhibition did not open, as claimed in the Art Journal Illustrated Catalogue, having ‘sprung, like Minerva from the brain of Jove “full armed,” into life and activity,’2 rather its format continually changed throughout the period of its organisation, construction and during the time that it was open. Instead of taking a teleological approach and working backwards from the Exhibition itself to try to explain its success and legacy, this thesis will work forwards from the beginning of preparations for the Exhibition to investigate the influences, decisions, changes and compromises that led to the Exhibition’s final configuration and contributed ultimately to its success. Chapter 1 examines how the organisers attempted to reconcile their own educational and altruistic aims with the conflicting commercial aspirations of exhibitors. Chapter 2 demonstrates how the organisers’ laissez-faire approach enabled them, initially, to maintain control of the project, but that as work progressed they became increasingly reactive to events, leading them in December 1850 to alter fundamentally the layout of the Exhibition just four months before it opened. Chapter 3 explores how British and foreign exhibitors set up their stands in response to the revised layout of the Exhibition. Chapters 4 and 5 look in detail at the different approaches of America and France, who were not only considered to have been the most successful exhibitors at the Great Exhibition, but were to become the acknowledged leaders of the international exhibition movement in the years after 1851, as organisers of World’s Fairs and Expositions Universelles1 2 3 This thesis will establish that the process of continual change involved in the organisation and construction of the 1851 Great Exhibition was crucial to its ultimate success.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available