Wooden plaque featuring an image of Horticultural Hall, created as a souvenir of America's first International Exhibition (World's Fair) the Centennial Exposition. Held in Philadelphia from 10 May to 10 November 1876, the Exposition marked 100 years since the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
More than 200 buildings were constructed in the Exposition grounds at Fairmont Park in Philadelphia. The main Exhibition Building, Machinery Hall and Agricultural Hall were all built as temporary structures. The Horticultural Hall, which is depicted in relief on the front of this plaque, was built as a permanent structure. At the close of the Exposition it continued as a horticultural exhibition space until 1954 when it was demolished following damage by Hurricane Hazel.
Being machine tooled, souvenir plaques like this one were produced in large quantities, and featured images of other structures in the Exposition grounds including the Machinery Hall and the main Exhibition Building.
Machine tooled decoration on wooden plaque. The front features an image of Horticultural Hall in relief. The back has text. Both sides are framed by a repeating dot pattern.
The 1876 Centennial Exposition was America's first foray into International Exhibitions. It is significant for a number of reasons, but specifically in terms of a connection with the Royal Exhibition Building collection:
* as a Centennial Exposition, proposed and marketed as a means to celebrate 100 years since the signing of the Declaration of Independence which took place in Philadelphia in 1876. The 1888 Melbourne Centennial International Exhibition was conceived with the same purpose, though was harder to market as such given it celebrated the centenary of landing in New South Wales.
* a number of exhibits displayed in Philadelphia were later forwarded to Paris for the 1878 Exposition Universelle and then to Melbourne for the 1880 Melbourne International Exhibition. As we are discovering through research into Victoria's two International Exhibitions, many displays spent their lives travelling from exhibition to exhibition.
* in 1875 an Intercolonial Exhibition was held in Melbourne. Exhibitors competed for inclusion in the Victorian Court at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia.
* mass produced souvenirs have been available at International Exhibitions since the 1851 Great Exhibition (Crystal Palace) in London. Museum Victoria does not hold any souvenirs of exhibitions other than the 1880 MIE and 1888 MCIE, so this provides a nice complement to the collection.
Donation from Miss Marian Seville, 16/06/2011
On verso above and below image of Horticultural Hall: CENTENNIAL EXPOSITION/ HORTICULTURAL HALL On recto: 1776 1876/ THREE MILLIONS OF/ COLONISTS/ ON A STRIP BY THE SEA/ NOW FORTY MILLIONS OF/ FREEMEN/ STRETCHING/ FROM OCEAN/ TO OCEAN
Type of item
100 mm (Width), 9 mm (Depth), 68 mm (Height)