13 Apr 2021
February 1, 2012 - Filed under: Victorian Dining Chairs — David

It’s a long way from Lancashire, but the antique chests, Victorian dining chairs and other furniture showcased in a new exhibition touring the US will be refreshingly familiar, all the same.

“Inventing the Modern World: Decorative Arts at the World’s Fairs, 1851–1939” is a unique exhibition which will be touring the US between April and August 2012. Although the term has American connotations, World Fairs were (and still are) an international phenomenon, probably more familiar to us in the UK under their title of Expositions. Celebrations of science, design and industry, they originated in France. However, the first recognised “World Expo” was the Great Exhibition of 1851, held at Crystal Palace in London. As Gillows of Lancaster was one of the principal exhibitors, at both this and subsequent World Fair events, this makes Inventing the Modern World of particular significance to visitors from Lancashire. Antique dining tables , yew cabinets and mahogany wine coolers are among the Gillows exhibits listed for the 1851 exhibition, the catalogue for which can be viewed online.

World Fairs were both a marketplace and showcase for Victorian design; waving the flag for modern manufacturing, nothing like them exists today. Inventing the Modern World is the first comprehensive exhibition to cover the decorative side of these shows, from the 1851 Great Exhibition in England, to the World’s Fair in New York, held at the eve of WWII.

Take a tour of the antique dealers in Preston, and you’ll see antique cabinets which, if they’re not actual exposition pieces, are certainly exhibition quality.

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