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The Crystal Palace Exhibition

The Crystal Palace Exhibition was more commonly known as The Great Exhibition or The Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations. It was a celebration of the modern industrial revolution and design in not only Europe but also, the rest of the world.

Prince Albert Portrait
A portrait of Prince Albert Consort.

A total of 25 countries participated in this exhibition. It was held in The Crystal Palace in Hyde Park located in the city of London. Below is a brief insight into the influences and vastness of The Great Exhibition.

Organizers of The Crystal Palace Exhibition

The main organizers of the Crystal Exhibition were Prince Albert and Henry Cole – a British civil servant and inventor. The Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce were contributors to the organization.

Henry Cole Portrait
A portrait of Henry Cole

Members like Francis Henry, George Wallis, Charles Dilke and other members were involved in many ways. The motive of this exhibition was to prove and demonstrate to the world, the powers Great Britain had in terms of industry and technology.

Great Exhibition 1851 Exhibits

The government came up with a separate committee called The Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851.

The English sought to show their excellence in durability, strength, and utility in the field of iron and steel or machinery and textiles as well.

The Crystal Palace Exhibition by Dickinson
A painting of the Crystal Palace Exhibition by Dickinson.

It was more of an advertising factor on a large scale. However, different countries participated in this exhibition and the primary focus became to provide hope for a better future.

Why was the Great Exhibition Important

The design and premise of the exhibition were planned to be so vast that the Crystal Palace had to be constructed.

Crystal Palace
The Crystal Palace designed by Joseph Paxton.

Hence, the Crystal Palace was constructed as a result of the Great Exhibition or the Crystal Palace Exhibition. It was designed by Joseph Paxton.

The structural engineer was Charles Fox. There was an entire team of engineers and architects working on its building and construction. It was constructed in a period of nine months.

Crystal Palace
The exterior of the Crystal Palace Exhibition.

It was a massive glass house from the outside and was made out of cast iron frame components.  It was an enormous success and an architectural marvel.

Display of the Crystal Palace Exhibition

The foremost display item at the exhibition was art. Paintings and sketches were on the front display. This showed Prince Albert’s encouragement for painters, artists, and designers.

Royal Society Emblem
The emblem of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce.

Then came the colonial raw materials that included Lumber, rice, cotton, wool, tobacco, and indigo. This boosted their revenue and encouraged exports to other European countries and also other parts of the world.

The Crystal Palace Exhibition

The display of moving machinery was very popular. Visitors had the chance to take a look at the entire process of cotton production.

From spinning the cotton wool to finished cloth material, the entire process was on display. Not only that, questions were answered and doubts were cleared of buyers who came from other countries.

The Crystal Palace Exhibition
The various exhibits at the Crystal Palace Exhibition.

There were scientific items on display as well. The barometer, microscopes of high range, air pumps, and electric telegraphs were some of the many items on display.

There were musical instruments as well. Surgical instruments for hospitals in Europe were also on the display. Their uses and methods of use were explained.


The Kohinoor – worlds largest diamond in 1851 was on the exhibit. Rare pale pink diamonds called Daria-i-Noor were a part of the collection.

Kohinoor in the Crown Royal Family
The Kohinoor – chief jewel in the crown of the Royal Family.

George Waterhouse, a jeweler from Dublin, Ireland put on demonstration the Tara Brooch. It was an ancient one belonging to the 8th century or before and was discovered in the 18th century.

Why was the Crystal Palace Important

Alfred Charles Hobbs, an American locksmith, and inventor exhibited various types of locks at the Crystal Palace Exhibition. Frederick Collier Bakewell made improvements in Alexander Bain’s fax machine and demonstrated it at the fair.

Alfred Charles Hobbs Portrait
A portrait of Alfred Charles Hobbs

The World’s first voting machine was seen at the Crystal Palace Exhibition. Its motto was to avoid overvote and maintain the secrecy of the voter. It was an automatic counting machine.

The Great Exhibition Inventions

It was displayed by William Chamberlin Jr from south-east England – a place called Sussex. One of the fascinating exhibitors was the American inventor, industrialist, and businessman – Samuel Colt.

Samuel displayed prototypes of his Walker and Dragoon revolvers at the exhibition. Since every country has a defense system, they were all amazed at Colt’s inventions and their projections.

Samuel Colt Portrait
A portrait of Samuel Colt – inventor and industrialist.

Gold and Silver ornaments, handicrafts, ethnic style of fabrications were exhibited by the Sind and areas of British Colonies from India.

Entry at the Crystal Palace Exhibitions

Two thousand five hundred tickets were sold on the first day of the exhibition or on the opening. Thereafter, prices varied according to the date people visited. Prices decreased as the parliamentary season drew an end.

Daria I Noor
The Daria-i-Noor.

The highest prices were paid by nobles and rich industrialists which went up to 3 guineas per ticket. For women, it was 2 guineas. As prices went lower, it went down to as low as 1 pound per ticket.

How it Ended

The Crystal Palace Exhibition at Hyde Park, London went on for 7 months straight. The closure of the exhibition was given on 15 October 1851. A total of six million people have been accounted to have visited the Crytal Palace Exhibition.

On an average, more than 40000 people attended the exhibition daily. The highest number of attendants were on 7 October 1851 when the number of people attending reached a high level of 109,915 people.

Working Machine Display
A sketch of an exhibitor at the Great Exhibition displaying the working of his machine, 1851.

The total turnover of the event was 186,000 pounds. This was a huge amount and the surplus from the profits further led to the construction of the famous Victoria and Albert Museum, the Science Museum, and the Natural History Museum.

The Crystal Palace was destroyed by fire in the year 1936 on November 30.

Facts about The Crystal Palace Exhibition

  1. With six million people attending The Great Exhibition, the organization was top notch. Every country had a different department and was distinguished by each other with the order of their own tradition and culture. Every item was well sorted into categories of art, weapons, handicrafts, artifacts, machinery, cloth, etc.
  2. The Great Exhibition symbolized the Victorian Era. It was because of the exhibition that the Victorian Era was highlighted as a significant one.
  3. Many of the artifacts and precious ornaments, along with paintings and beautiful sculptures by the British are now a part of the Victoria and Albert Museum.
  4. People like Charles Darwin, George Elliot, Charles Dickens, and many more Victorian celebrities attended the Exhibition.

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