1897, Stockholm SE – General Art and Industrial Exposition of Stockholm

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1897 Stockholm

Name:General Art and Industrial Exposition of Stockholm
Allmänna konst- och industriutställningen
Dates:15 May – 3 Oct 1897
Days:140 days
Venue:Djurgården – the island was 20.8 ha (51.4 acres),
with the second site site a total of just over 40.5 ha (100 acres)
Theme:To mark the 25th anniversary of King Oscar’s reign
Exhibitors: 3,722 – 5 nations
Visitors:1.2 – 1.5m – 10 SEK on first day, then progressively reduced from 2 SEK to 50 öre
Legacy:See below

King Oscar II was approached in 1893 to approve an exhibition, it was agreed and set for the 25th anniversary of his reign in 1897, and to have two main categories – art and industry.

There were 3,722 exhibitors from five countries Denmark, Finland, Norway, Russia and Sweden. Canada and Germany asked to be allowed to participate but were not admitted as the intention was for it to be primarily Scandinavian.

The exhibition site was agreed as the island of Kungliga Djurgården (The Royal Game Park) in central Stockholm, and many of the structures on the western part of the island originated as part of the exhibition. Today, the island has the Skansen open-air museum and zoo, the Nordic Museum (then displaying education and science, health care and child-rearing) and The Vasa Museum, between them they attract 10m visitors each year.

Skansens Bergbana, pictured on its 100th birthday
Image Bruce LF Persson/www.funiculars.net

The main bridge to the island, Djurgårdsbron, was built to improve exhibition access, and there wre People’s Trains, special excursions for those from further afield. The Skansens Bergbana, a funicular railway on the northwest side of Skansenberget (Skansen Mountain) was created for the show.

Sweden was then the largest wood exporter in the world. Unsurprising then that the exposition hall (16,820 m² [181,049 sq ft]) was wood-built, designed by the architects Ferdinand Broberg and Fredrik Lilljekvist. Some 34,000 trees were used in its construction. It was the largest wood-built building in its time, it had a 100 m (328 ft) tall cupola (apparently inspired by the Hagia Sofia in Istanbul) and four minarets.

1897 Aerial view

The minarets had elevators that allowed visitors to get a bird’s-eye-view of the site and surrounding areas. Built to be temporary, it was demolished after the exposition. The Art Hall also designed by Broberg was paited white.

Outside the halls and pavilions the Skansen exhibition grounds had a 16th century themed Old Stockholm near the beach and an open air museumm showing country life in past Sweden. The latter was an ethnological exhibitthat displayed houses, cabins, huts and the peculiarities of life in this high latitude.

From YouTube video of King Oscar II opening the event

King Oscar II formally opened the event, his speech was recorded on film, and provides glimpses of the setting, the buildings and the attendees (available here on YouTube). In fact one of the themes that emerged was the new media technologies, (film. phonograph…) Lumiere’s Cinematograph was one such highlight.

1897 General View

Visitor estimates vary from 1.2m to 1.5m, which represented 30% of the then Swedish population. Admission was 10 SEK on opening day, then 1.5 – 2.0 SEK.

1897 Castle Gate to Gamla Stockholm (Old Stockholm)

Old Stockholm was a popular feature (see YouTube video referenced above), it was created to be 16th c at the time of King Gustav Vasa, the unifier of Sweden. It included a castle and church

Besides the main hall, there were buildings for Chemical Engineering, Education, Fisheries, Machinery (10,000 sq m), Sports and Tourism. Stockholm built its own city pavilion and the Royal Family built one too. There were also over one hundred pavilions and kiosks for private firms.

A garden exhibit needed to cover three approaches across the event’s run – Spring, Summer and Autumn.

Costs have been variously reported at c 2.9m SEK with a small deficit.

1897 Silver Medal

At the end of the exhibition there was reportedly an unattractive, extensive looting of the exhibits.

After the exposition the industrial hall was torn down, but the Nordic Museum continued to be used and is still extant. Remaining in their original places are the the Diamond Rock Drill Co Pavilion, the Reinhold Bakery, now a restaurant; the Royal Hunt Club Pavilion, now a private home; and the Diamond Rock Drill Co Pavilion. Other pavilions were moved to Skansen including the Braghallen, the Fröstorp, and the Villa Lusthusporten.

Forward to 1897, Guatemala City GU – Exposition Centroamericana
Back to 1897, Brussels BE – Exposition Internationale de Bruxelles
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