University Of Tasmania

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The other half: women at the Australian international exhibitions (1879, 1880 & 1888)

conference contribution
posted on 2023-05-23, 18:19 authored by Orr, K
Nineteenth-century exhibitions gave colonial women opportunities to participate in society at a time when they were largely excluded from public life. At the Australian international exhibitions of 1879, 1880 and 1888, colonial women were enthusiastic exhibitors – the participation rate in 1879 being almost three times greater than at the preceding Paris Exposition Universelle.

The Australian ladies’ courts, despite their limitations, gave women and their work new status. They were genteel affairs, celebrating women’s particular contributions in the private, domestic sphere and supporting the idea that the home was the basis of social morality; that it was woman who made the home, and the home the nation.

These exhibitions, together with greater educational opportunities, made it possible for women to begin to promote their interests in, and claims to, autonomy, equality, inclusion and citizenship and laid the groundwork for their role in the Federation movement.


Publication title

Proceedings of Seize the Day: Exhibitions, Australia and the World




School of Architecture and Design


Museum Victoria

Place of publication


Event title

Seize the Day: Exhibitions, Australia and the World

Event Venue


Date of Event (Start Date)


Date of Event (End Date)


Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Understanding Australia’s past

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