International Exhibitions / Temporary structures and presentation of national contexts

The 1867 exhibition held in Paris marked a change in the structure of the International Exhibitions. The number of nations that now participated made it necessary to change the way the spaces were organised, not just to vary how the products were presented, but primarily to allow each country to represent their own cultural context as authentically and freely as possible. Distributed according to planned layouts and, significantly, according to the specific political and colonial situation at the time, various national pavilions were placed in strategic positions in relation to the emerging architecture of the host nation. While host countries tended to construct buildings and other structures, which were designed to remain after the exhibition and intended to project the cutting edge of technology, the “Eastern district” ‒ which included the pavilions of Egypt and the Ottoman Empire as well as Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia along with all the other countries considered at the time to belong to the “Arab world” ‒ formed the most picturesque and popular area at all the International Exhibitions.

Working NumberNameHolding MuseumDateMaterialsCurator Justification
IT2 065Façade of the Foreign Sections in Palace of the Champ de Mars [Paris Exhibition, 1878]National Central Library1878At the exhibition held in Paris in 1878 the Champ de Mars Palace was set among other façades within the “foreign” section. This forced and unnatural union of different styles, which was used in order to create an architectural “pastiche”, is typical of the International Exhibitions. Façades set along a linear path was a peculiarity of the so-called “Rue des Nations”.
IT2 055Algerian Pavilion in the Trocadéro Park [Paris Exhibition, 1878]National Central Library1878The “Algerian” pavilion of 1878 reflected the colonial policy of France. The main entrance copied the portal of the ‘Ubbad Mosque of Sidi Bumadyan, near Tlemcen, richly adorned with enamelled majolica and arabesque decorations; the decoration of the minaret resembled that of Mansoura Mosque.
IT2 053Cairo in Milan. Exhibition 1906Central Institute for Cataloguing and Documentation (ICCD)1906Sometimes in these picture postcards, produced to document the exhibits minus the crowds of visitors, the “Cairo Street” is animated by the presence of “character types” who stand “proudly” outside their designated areas.
UK 153Produits L'Algerie. Algerian products at the Paris Universal Exhibition, 1855Victoria and Albert Museum1855Albumen printThe first exhibition held in Paris in 1855 was France’s reaction to the first Great Exhibition held in London in 1851. This photo shows the interior of the Palais des Industries (built in stone, glass and cast iron and characterised by a very long aisle) within which the Algerian section’s objects are depicted in a somewhat disordered state.
AT 017Photograph of the copy of the fountain of Ahmed IIIMAK – Austrian Museum of Applied Arts / Contemporary Artc. 1873PhotographyAt the exhibition held in Vienna in 1873, the Ottoman Empire was represented by a “Turkish” quarter posed, like the Egyptian one, in front of the main hall. In the main pavilion was a re-creation of the Fountain of Sultan Ahmed III, built in 1728, in front of the Topkapı Palace in Istanbul.