The Great Exhibition of 1851

Digital Scholarship from English 480/580 at Oregon State University

Home > English 480 / 580 at the Great Exhibition

English 480 / 580 at the Great Exhibition


The Great Exhibition of 1851 was a grand display, an attempt to collect the world's best in art and industry under the soaring glass roof of the Crystal Palace in Hyde Park, London. Yet, as our class has learned, the exhibition has its own biases and fault lines, as ideologies such as empire, class, and gender inflected the technological and artistic aspirations of the exhibition.

Using Omeka and drawing from theoretical readings on archives and digital collecting, students in this class have created unique pieces of digital scholarship, each focusing on one aspect of the Great Exhibition. "Sensing Souvenirs Through the Years" asks what the souvenirs of the Great Exhibition can tell us about how the exhibition was experienced and memorialized. "Spatial Persuasions in the Crystal Palace" uses an interactive floor plan to investigate the relationship between nations and their spatial represenation at the exhibtion. Finally, "Perception vs. Reality of the Great Exhibition" juxtaposes public perceptions of the exhibition with personal narratives, statistics, and visual renderings to search for gaps between what the exhibition claimed to be and how people experienced it.

These pieces do not attempt a complete collection; instead, they represent select materials related to the Great Exhibition in order to digitally represent under-examined aspects of this famous event.