The first great international exhibition was held in London in 1851. Prince Albert, the husband of Queen Victoria, was the moving spirit in organizing it, and it was opened by the Queen herself. It was housed in a building made entirely of glass and iron, called the Crystal Palace. The exhibition was a great success, and drew exhibits and people from all parts of the world. Some optimistic people saw in it the beginning of an era of international peace ; for they could not believe that the nations that joined in promoting so grand a project could ever quarrel again. Their hopes, alas! were soon dashed; for only three years after, the Crimean War broke out.
Many great exhibitions have been held since then- in London, Paris, Vienna, Edinburgh, Monchester, Chicago, and other places. A great Empire Exhibition was held at Wembly in 1924; and in 1938 one of the biggest ever held was at Glasgow, and was visited by fourteen million people.
Although exhibitions evidently cannot prevent war, they do undoubtedly help to promote friendly relations among nations. Exhibits are sent from all countries, and visitors come from all parts of the world. Men and women of different nations cannot work and organize together, and meet in friendly intercourse, as they do at such times, without getting more knowledge of, and sympathy with, one another’s customs and ways of thinking.
Moreover exhibitions do much to spread trade and commerce. They bring together samples of the produce of different countries, from which merchants can learn where they can buy and sell to the best advantage; Exhibitions are great advertising agencies.
Perhaps the chief object and use of such exhibitions in the promotion of manufactures, and the encouragement of new inventions and improved methods. Manufacturers from all parts of the world can see at an exhibition all the latest machines, and methods and processes of manufacture. Prizes, also, are offered to stimulate inventions, and create a healthy rivalry in excellence of workmanship.
Exhibitions have also an educational value; for besides exhibits of the products of different countries, an exhibition generally contains collections of pictures and works of art, curiosities of all kinds, and model villages and streets representing the life and customs of different nations. School teachers take their classes to an exhibition to show and explain to them many things that cannot so will he learn from books.
So exhibitions have done much to help trade and education, and promote the international spirit.