Critical and Contextual Studies

On the 6th of October we learned about the importance of history in design whilst talking about this we learned about how the V&A Museum grew from The Great Exhibition in 1851 this was held to show the people of Britain manufactured products that could be mass produced. The exhibition was organised by Henry Cole and Prince Albert, whilst we talked about the exhibition and what was going on during the time it was erected it seemed to me that the reason behind it was that the imperialists that ruled the country at this time wanted to put on a show in a way to distract the common people from the apparent rebellions occuring around Europe.

The reason I think this is because of the fact it was a free exhibition and at the same time the train fairs to it had been reduced this would of allowed people of a lower class to attend aswell as those in the middle and upper classes.

It was also mentioned that over 100,000 different objects had been on display and that they had come from 34 different nations, it was also said that the police and been brought in to keep an eye on the crowds of people entering the exhibition. This lead me to think that this was an attempt to display the power and wealth that the royal family possessed and by doing this halting any ideas of rebelling.

We also learned about Henry Cole who had introduced the idea of good design and bad design to the masses through his own philosophy he believed that if something lacked symmetry and structure and held a lot of unnecessary decoration that it was considered bad design and through this philosophy he’d pushed the taste of the upper classes onto the lower classes.

In conclusion I think that The Great Exhibition of 1851 was a scheme put in place to stop the lower classes from rebelling by glamourising consumerism and capitalism and then introducing them to what the upper class saw as good taste and culture.


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