Colonial exhibition

Counter exposition to the 1931 Colonial Exhibition in Paris.

A colonial exhibition was a type of international exhibition intended to boost trade and bolster popular support for the various colonial empires during the New Imperialism period, which started in the 1880s with the scramble for Africa.

The British Empire Exhibition of 1924–5, held at Wembley Park in north-west London, ranked among these expositions, but perhaps the most notable was the rather successful 1931 Paris Colonial Exposition, which lasted six months and sold 33 million tickets.[1] Paris's Colonial Exhibition debuted on 6 May 1931, and encompassed 110 hectares of the Bois de Vincennes. The exhibition included dozens of temporary museums and façades representing the various colonies of the European nations, as well as several permanent buildings. Among these were the Palais de la Porte Dorée, designed by architect Albert Laprode, which then housed the Musée permanent des Colonies, and serves today as the Cité nationale de l'histoire de l'immigration.[1]

An anti-colonial counter-exhibition was held near the 1931 Colonial Exhibition, titled Truth on the Colonies and was organized by the French Communist Party. The first section was dedicated to the crimes made during the colonial conquests, and quoted Albert Londres and André Gide's criticisms of forced labour while the second one made an apology of the Soviets' "nationalities' policy" compared to "imperialist colonialism".

Germany and Portugal also staged colonial exhibitions, as well as Belgium, which had a Foire coloniale as late as 1948. Human zoos were featured in some of these exhibitions, such as in the Parisian 1931 exhibition.[2]

Colonial exhibitions

Exhibitions which may be described as colonial exhibitions include:

Name of exhibition Date Location Country Image Notes
Intercolonial Exhibition of Australasia (1866) 1866 Melbourne
Intercolonial Exhibition (1870)[3] 1870 Sydney Included printwork by Helena Scott
Victorian Intercolonial Exhibition[3] 1875 Melbourne
Intercolonial Exhibition (1876) 1876 Brisbane
Internationale Koloniale en Uitvoerhandel Tentoonstelling 1883 Amsterdam Netherlands
The Internationale Koloniale en Uitvoerhandel Tentoonstelling
Colonial and Indian Exhibition 1886 London United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
Opening of the Colonial and Indian Exhibition 1886
Exposition internationale et coloniale (1894) 1894 Lyon France
Map of the 1894 Lyon fair
Exposição Insular e Colonial Portuguesa 1894 Oporto Portugal
Great Industrial Exposition of Berlin 1896 Berlin Germany
Overview of 1896 exhibition
Brussels International 1897 Brussels Belgium
Postcard from Brussels International
Hanoi exhibition 1902 Hanoi French Indochina
Postcard of the Palais d'expositions at Hanoi Exhibition
United States, Colonial and International Exposition 1902
Exposition coloniale 1906 Marseille France
Postcard of the Annam Tower built for the exhibition.
Franco-British Exhibition 1908 London United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
Bird's eye view of the Franco-British exhibition
The exhibition celebrated the Entente Cordiale signed in 1904 by the United Kingdom and France.
Exposition Universelle de Bruxelles 1910 Brussels Belgium
Poster for the exposition Universelle de Bruxelles
Colonial Exhibition of Semarang 1914 Semarang, Java Netherlands
Overview of the colonial exhibition of Semarang.
Intended to "give a comprehensive picture of the Dutch Indies in their present prosperous condition".[4]
International Exhibition of Rubber and Other Tropical Products 1921 London United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
The Royal Agricultural Hall site of the rubber exhibition
Festival of Empire 1911 London United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
Replica of Canada Parliament Building at Festival of Empire
Exposition nationale coloniale 1922 Marseille France
British Empire Exhibition 1924–5 London United Kingdom
The Palace of Industry building from British Empire Exhibition
Exposition internationale coloniale, maritime et d'art flamand 1930 Antwerp[5] Belgium
Paris Colonial Exposition 1931 Paris France
"Le Cactus" at the 1931 French exhibition
A six-month exhibition that attempted to display the diverse cultures and immense resources of France's colonial possessions.
Exposição Colonial Portuguesa 1934 Porto Portugal
Empire Exhibition, Johannesburg 1936 Johannesburg South AfricaUnion of South Africa A continuation of the Empire Exhibition held in Wembley in 1924-25[6]
Empire Exhibition, Scotland 1938 1938 Glasgow United Kingdom
A season ticket pass section showing logo
Deutsche Kolonial Ausstellung 1939
Foire coloniale 1948 Brussels Belgium

Japanese colonial exhibitions

Entrance to the Korea Exhibition, Seoul, 1929

During the early 20th century, the Empire of Japan was noteworthy in that it not only hosted colonial showcases in exhibitions within the Home Islands, but also held several full-scale expositions inside its colonies of Korea and Taiwan. These exhibitions did however have objectives comparable to that of their European counterparts, in that they highlighted economic achievements and social progress under Japanese colonial rule to Japanese and colonial subjects alike.

Expositions held in Japanese colonies included:

See also


  1. 1 2 Blevis, Laure; Lafout-Couturieur, Hélène; et al. (2008). 1931: Les Étrangers au temps de l'Exposition Coloniale. Paris: Gallimard.
  2. "From human zoos to colonial apotheoses: the era of exhibiting the Other". Centro de Estudos Sociais. Retrieved 2014-02-03.
  3. 1 2 Pelle, Findling, ed. (2008). "Appendix D:Fairs Not Included". Encyclopedia of World's Fairs and Expositions. McFarland & Company, Inc. p. 423. ISBN 978-0-7864-3416-9.
  4. "Calendar". The Independent. 13 Jul 1914. Retrieved 5 August 2012.
  5. Pelle, Findling, ed. (2008). "Appendix B:Fair Statistics". Encyclopedia of World's Fairs and Expositions. McFarland & Company, Inc. p. 415. ISBN 978-0-7864-3416-9.
  6. "Lexicon - Empire Exhibition". Retrieved December 5, 2013.


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