In its day, the Great Industrial Exhibition of 1853 was the largest international event to be held in Ireland. The building, located on the grounds of Leinster House, on Merrion Square was designed by John Benson, who had designed the building for the Irish Industrial Exhibition held in Cork the previous year.
Queen Victoria accompanied by the Prince Consort and the Prince of Wales, paid an official visit on 29 August. Appropriately given the royal couple’s interest in and promotion of photography, this was the first Worlds Fair to include photographs in the fine arts section. Among the exhibits were the calotype photographs taken by Edward King Tenison, of Castle Tenison, Co. Roscommon of the villages and towns of Spain. King Tenison had developed a technique which enabled him to enlarge his pictures to a size which was suitable for public display. A summary of the photography exhibitors can be found here.
The undertaking was entirely funded by William Dargan, entrepreneur and developer of Irish railways. However, overall attendance was lower than expected at approximately 1.15 million visitors, leaving Dargan with a financial loss of approximately £9,000.
Photo by Edward King Tenison of the Irish Industrial Exhibition Building, courtesy National Gallery of Art, Washington DC.