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A force for urbanism and national identity: nineteenth-century Australian international exhibitions and their domestic exhibits


Orr, K, A force for urbanism and national identity: nineteenth-century Australian international exhibitions and their domestic exhibits, Additions to architectural history: proceedings of the XIXth annual conference of the Society of Architectural Historians Australia and New Zealand (SAHANZ), 04-07 October 2002, Brisbane, Australia, pp. 1-14. ISBN 1864996471 (2002) [Refereed Conference Paper]

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When the international exhibitions came to Australia in 1879, 1880 and 1888, exhibits of items for the home were the most popular. Exhibitions fostered occasions for nations to construct and present images of national character. Domestic exhibits, in particular, linked design with nationality in a manner capable of interpretation by a wide cross-section of the population. They provided an important interface between needs, wants and interests of ordinary people and visions of society promoted by power elites. Elites, interested in ideas of progress and civilisation, used photographic images of Australian cities to represent colonial advancement, and promoted exhibitions in Australia for their refining values. They believed that the home, a fundamental unit of the city, was an index of, and an agency for, civilisation and moral order.

This paper explores how exhibits gave visitors opportunities to engage with ideas about similarities and differences between peoples; national and non-national imperatives; local and non-local influences and characteristics; and perceptions of modernity and progressiveness compared to Old World traditions. Exhibits of a domestic nature provided an impetus for ideas beyond the exhibitions themselves and contributed to shaping the development of the cities of Sydney and Melbourne in the years leading to Federation.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Conference Paper
Keywords:urbanism, national identity, Australian international exhibition
Research Division:Built Environment and Design
Research Group:Architecture
Research Field:Architectural history, theory and criticism
Objective Division:Culture and Society
Objective Group:Understanding past societies
Objective Field:Understanding Australia's past
UTAS Author:Orr, K (Professor Kirsten Orr)
ID Code:107637
Year Published:2002
Deposited By:Architecture
Deposited On:2016-03-21
Last Modified:2016-04-13
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