Why is the Koh-i-Noor diamond one of the most famous diamonds in the world? How did the Victoria & Albert Museum come into being? How did British factories get a hang of how exotic Indian textiles were made? These varied events, have one thing in common – The Great Exhibition that was hosted in London in 1851. It dazzled the thousands who came to see it, from the commoner on the street, to the Queen of the British Empire. It also left a lasting image of ‘exotic’ India.
The Great Exhibition was put up to highlight ‘the Works of Industry of All Nations’. A spectacular ‘Crystal Palace’ was created at Hyde Park in central London. This was a glass structure with massive chandeliers and exhibits of 28 countries – including many areas where Britain was increasingly getting involved in or had relations with. Also present were countries like France, the United States and Canada.
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