A series of exhibitions, under the presidency of the then prince of Wales, and managed by Sir Cunliffe Owen, was commenced at South Kensington in 1883. The first was devoted to a display of the various industries connected with fishing; the second, in 1884, to objects connected with hygiene; the third, in 1885, to inventions; and the fourth, in 1886, to the British colonies and India. These exhibitions attracted a large number of visitors and realized a substantial profit. They might have been continued indefinitely if it had not been that the buildings in which they were held had become very dilapidated, and that the ground covered by them was required for other purposes. There was no examination of the exhibits by juries, but a tolerably liberal supply of instrumental music was supplied by military and civil bands. The Crystal Palace held a successful International Exhibition in 1884, and there was an Italian Exhibition at Turin, and a Forestry Exhibition at Edinburgh, during the same year. A World’s Industrial Fair was held at New Orleans in 1884—1885, and there were universal Exhibitions at Montenegro and Antwerp in 1885, at Edinburgh in 1886, Liverpool, Adelaide, Newcastle and Manchester in 1887, and at Glasgow, Barcelona and Brussels in 1888. Melbourne held an International Exhibition in 1888— 1889 to celebrate the Centenary of Australia. Great Britain, Germany, France, Austria and the United States were officially represented, and an expenditure of £237,784 was incurred by the local government.
Although such exhibitions were popular in France from the seventeeth century onwards, the first truly international exhibition to be held in Britain was the 1851 event held at the custom-built Crystal Palace in London. Proving to be massively popular with the public, its success resulted in a craze for further large - and increasingly grander - exhibitions.
The first great universal exhibition held in Glasgow occurred in 1888. This was a roaring success and its profits went towards funding a new and permanant Art Gallery and Museum, to be situated in Kelvingrove Park. Its foundation stone was laid in 1897 and the second exhibition of 1901 was conceived to inaugurate the new building. This was the biggest UK event to be organised so far in the new century, although the 1900 Paris exposition universelle must be given the accolade for being the very first exhibition of the twentieth century.
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