Colonial exhibition

Colonial exhibition
Poster for the 1910 Exposition Universelle de Bruxelles
Counter exposition to the 1931 Colonial Exhibition in Paris.
Opening of the Colonial and Indian Exhibition, 1886
Postcard of the Annam Tower built in Marseilles (France) for the 1906 Colonial Exhibition.

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 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, which today serves as the Cité nationale de l'histoire de l'immigration, as well as the Musée Permanente des Colonies, designed by architect Albert Laprode.[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:

  • Intercolonial Exhibition of Australasia (1866)
  • Intercolonial Exhibition (1870)
  • Intercolonial Exhibition (1875)
  • Intercolonial Exhibition (1876)
  • Internationale Koloniale en Uitvoerhandel Tentoonstelling (1883)
  • Colonial and Indian Exhibition (1886)
  • Exposition internationale et coloniale (1894)
  • Exposição Insular e Colonial Portuguesa (1894)
  • Great Industrial Exposition of Berlin (1896)
  • Brussels International (1897)
  • Indo China Exposition Française et Internationale (1902)
  • United States, Colonial and International Exposition (1902)
  • Exposition coloniale (1906)
  • Franco-British Exhibition (1908)
  • Exposition Universelle de Bruxelles (1910)
  • Koloniale Tentoonstelling (1914)
  • International Exhibition of Rubber and Other Tropical Products (1921)
  • Festival of Empire (1911)
  • Exposition nationale coloniale (1922)
  • British Empire Exhibition (1924–5)
  • Exposition internationale coloniale, maritime et d'art flamand (1930)
  • Exposition coloniale internationale (1931)
  • Paris Colonial Exposition (1931)
  • Exposição Colonial Portuguesa (1934)
  • Empire Exhibition (1936)
  • Empire Exhibition, Scotland 1938
  • Deutsche Kolonial Ausstellung (1939)
  • Exposição do Mundo Português (1940)
  • Foire coloniale (1948)
Entrance to the Korea Exhibition, Seoul, 1929

Japanese colonial exhibitions

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:

  • Korea Trade Fair to Commemorate 5 Years of Government (Seoul, 1915)
  • Korea Exhibition (Seoul, 1929)
  • Taiwan Exhibition to Commemorate 40 Years of Government (Taipei, 1935)

See also


  1. ^ a b 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" by Pascal Blanchard, Nicolas Bancel, and Sandrine Lemaire


  • Alexander C.T. Geppert, Fleeting Cities. Imperial Expositions in Fin-de-Siècle Europe, Basingstoke/New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010.

External links

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