05/10/2022

1879-80, Sydney AU – International Exhibition

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1879 Sydney

Name:International Exhibition
Dates:17 Sep 1879 – 20 Apr 1880
Days:
Venue:Garden Palace – 15 acres
Theme:
Exhibitors:14,000 exhibits
Awards:
Visitors:1,117,536
Legacy:£103,615 loss

The Agricultural Society of New South Wales had run exhibitions since 1870 and these had attracted exhinbitors from Canada, Ceylon, Fiji and New Zealand, these developed a desire for the 1879-80 event. Though the siting of the event’s Garden Palace adjacent to Government House caused some pushbacks.

1879 Sydney venue

The Italianate cruciform palace was large and its 30.5m (100 ft) diameter dome was thought to be a blot on the harbourscape. The dome bases and minarets were brick-built, but the rest was fabricated in wood. On completion it was the largest building in the southen hemsphere and sixth largest in the world. Built on a slope, the east side had a basement and the west a first floor gallery.

Machinery Hall

There was also agricultural and machinery halls, a fine art gallery and a number of other pavilions,

1879 Sydney general view

At this time a journey from Europe to Australia took three months, and the local population was just 2.25m, forty years earlier the only inhabitants had been convicts. So it was somewhat of a surprise that foreign exhibitors would be interested. But then the discovery of gold needed to be factored in,

The fear that a failed event would daamage the colony drove the local authorities to take the innovation over. The Commissioners attended Paris in 1878 and canvassed the exhibitors there to participate in the Sydney event and the Melbourne exhibition in 1880. They achieved a good response.

On completion the Palace was the largest building in the southern hemsphere and the sixth largest in the world. Its location meant that arriving ships into Sydney Harbour, became a symbol of the colony’s progress.

Internal views

The 1,117,536 visitors made this the highest in proportion to the national population of any international exhibition held in the world – a turning point in the colony’s history and its prospect of nationehood.

23 Sep 1882 after the fire

The Palace later served as the Mining and Technological Museum, but would burn down on 22 Sep 1882. Some suggest that the government offices in the basement held convict files. The site became the Palace Garden, part of the Royal Botanic Gardens.

Forward to 1880, Berlin DE – International Fishing Exhibition
Back to 1879, San Francisco US – Industrial Exhibition (14th) Mechanics Institute
Back to Getting Noticed – Back to VOLUME II Index – Back to bobdenton.com home

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