Sarah Kirby. Exhibitions, Music and the British Empire

Book review by Paul Watt 

University of Adelaide

Context 48 (2022): 106–8.

Published online: 31 Jan. 2023


The 2022 World Fair (aka ‘Expo’) held in Dubai has recently drawn to a close. The next Expo will be hosted by Buenos Aires in 2023; the one after that will be staged in Osaka in 2025. These Expos are all linked to the first Expo of them all: the Great Exhibition staged in London in 1851. To be sure, the term ‘great’ is an understatement. The 1851 event, and those that followed it, were—and remain—colossal undertakings. They take years of planning, attract millions of visitors, and serve a variety of cultural and political purposes. These Expos are built and designed to ‘dazzle’—a word that Sarah Kirby uses in her book to describe the at times overwhelming effect of Expos on the senses (p. 52). […]

Download PDF