The Great Exhibition of 1851

Digital Scholarship from English 480/580 at Oregon State University

About Our Project

The Great Exhibition of the Industry of All Nations illustration

      Most scholars understand The Great Exhibition as a way for Britain to showcase their position as a world power. It is simple enough to come to this conclusion when one examines the material most scholars are using such as paper marketing, organization records, exhibit materials, etc. because said materials can easily create a perception of power. However, these interpretations seldom take into account the actual experience that people had at the exhibit. This weakness in the conversation is what we are hoping to strengthen with our digital project: Perception vs. Reality in The Great Exhibition.

      In this project, we examine both the marketed perceptions of The Great Exhibition and the realistic experiences of attendees. Each page includes an essay that interprets a gallery of images in respect to a different aspect of the exhibition: international representation, the shilling days, and the physical experience. It is our intent that all of the pages in this exhibit will provoke thought on how comparing the perceptions with the realities can create new commentary on the scholarly narrative of power in The Great Exhibition.

About Our Project