(R80) 150th Anniversary Exhibition of the "Crystal Palace at Sydenham" at Dulwich Gallery - 4 Feb to 18 April 2004

Palace at

4 February - 18 April 2004

Just above Dulwich Picture Gallery, the Crystal Palace stood on the horizon for eighty-two years, a glittering crown to the bosky Sydenham Hill. Opened by Queen Victoria on June 10, 1854, the Palace was on a colossal scale. The interior nave was originally a Winter Garden with extraordinary botanical displays and statuary. To the sides were found displays of architecture, industry, ethnography and natural history. The vast sloping park was laid out in terraces, elaborate formal gardens and informal English landscape gardening. The waterworks - fountains, water temples and cascades - were intended to surpass Versailles. For its first thirty years the Palace and Gardens drew an average of two million visitors annually.

This exhibition coincides with the 150th Anniversary of the erection of the Crystal Palace at Sydenham and aims to place the Crystal Palace in the context of social and cultural history, of national and local history, of the history of museums, of public education in architecture, and of the history of taste.

Crystal Palace had a profound effect on the artists working at the time. Artists employed new tenacity in their depictions of archaeological or historical settings having seen them reconstructed in the architectural halls at the Palace. Works by Tenniel, Pugin and Holman Hunt are included in the exhibition.

With its wealth of contemporary paintings, original photographs and engravings, the exhibition makes possible an imaginary visit to the Palace and Gardens. The relation to the 'Parent Building' at Hyde Park and the Great Exhibition is demonstrated. The 1851 exhibition is well known but the extraordinary richness and range of the displays and activities at Sydenham are mostly unfamiliar. This exhibition seeks to redress this balance.

A catalogue by Jan Piggot, curator of the exhibition, will be available as a companion to the exhibition.

For further information and images contact Isabel Evans in the press office on
020 8299 8711 or email

Dulwich Picture Gallery, Gallery Road, London SE21 7AD
Tel: 020 8693 5254 Fax: 020 8299 8700

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11/6/03 Last updated 11/6/03