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In memoriam the Sydney International Exhibition, 1879: enduring urban and cultural legacies


Orr, K, In memoriam the Sydney International Exhibition, 1879: enduring urban and cultural legacies, City and Society in European History: Proceedings of the Xth International Conference on Urban History, September 2010, Ghent, Belgium, pp. 1-7. (2010) [Non Refereed Conference Paper]

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The first international exhibition in the Southern Hemisphere was held in Sydney, Australia, in 1879. A magnificent Garden Palace was constructed on the harbour fore shores surmounted by a marvellous dome that was not only the largest in the Southern Hemisphere, but ranked sixth in the world for size. Constructed entirely of timber, it was not expected to stand forever, but its passing came sooner than expected when it was destroyed by a great fire in 1882. This paper argues that although the Sydney International Exhibition and Garden Palace were ephemeral entities, they left an indelible mark on the collective psyche of the people and the city through the development of an urban ethos that linked urban development to higher ideals of nation building. The exhibits on show from around the world encouraged visitors to compare themselves to other nations and to define their national identity. The staging of the event focussed attention on the city, providing new media and experiences by which people could orient themselves to their urban milieu. The emphasis placed on the city and urban culture stimulated urban growth and influenced its form. Efforts were intensified to endow Sydney with cultural institutions and amenities, and urbanism came to provide a shared language with the Old World, essential to the construction of an Australian national identity. This paper will examine two major strands of the exhibition - the exhibits on show and the urban focus of the event itself. It will demonstrate the manner in which the Sydney International Exhibition generated shared sentiments that endured at least until the turn of the century and contributed to the development of the city.

Item Details

Item Type:Non Refereed Conference Paper
Keywords:Sydney International Exhibition, Garden Palace, Australian national identity
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:107711
Year Published:2010
Deposited By:Architecture
Deposited On:2016-03-22
Last Modified:2016-03-22
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