First general German industrial exhibition

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Commemorative medal for the exhibition. Medalist: Carl Friedrich Voigt

The First General German Industrial Exhibition (also: General Exhibition of German Industrial and Commercial Products ) took place in Munich in 1854 .


Other metropolises had already organized industrial exhibitions with international participation: the first was Paris in 1798 , London in 1851 the Great Exhibition with over 17,000 exhibitors and six million visitors. The Great Industrial Exhibition in Dublin followed in 1853, followed by the "Industrial Exhibition of All Nations" in New York from 1853–54 with around 7,000 exhibitors.

In the German-speaking area, a small first German industrial exhibition was held in Mainz in 1842 by the Grand Ducal Trade Association of Hesse in the Deutschhaus . The General German Commercial Exhibition in 1844 in the Berlin Zeughaus with 3,040 exhibitors and 260,000 visitors, the 1850 exhibitions in Vienna with 2,000 and in the same year in Leipzig with at least 1,414 exhibitors turned out to be significantly larger . However, none of these previous German exhibitions offered such a size, such a broad spectrum and truly international participation and charisma.

Due to the great success of these exhibitions, King Maximilian II of Bavaria decided in 1853 to hold one in Munich the following year.

The motivation for this was his desire to consolidate Munich's reputation as a progressive business location and to establish Munich as an important trade fair location. Max II also saw the solution to the social question in the industrialization of Bavaria, which had previously been dominated by agriculture. The exhibition should give a very decisive impulse for the development of industry and craft in Bavaria. His decision to bring this first national overview of the high level of German industry and trade to Munich was part of a very modern economic policy.

Exhibition building

The exhibition building (the "Glass Palace")

The art-loving King Max II had already dealt with architecture as Crown Prince . His endeavor was to give architecture a contemporary and future-oriented form, in contrast to historicist architectural concepts. Impressed by the famous London exhibition building built three years earlier, the Crystal Palace by Joseph Paxton , which he visited for the exhibition there in 1851, he ordered the construction of a similarly spectacular structure. This decision also expresses the high programmatic demands that the king made on this exhibition.

The original plan was to erect the building on Maximiliansplatz . However, the decision of the responsible commission fell on an area near the train station , in the Botanical Garden of the Royal Academy of Sciences (today the Old Botanical Garden ), which was laid out by Friedrich Ludwig von Sckell . The reputation of the chemist Justus von Liebig was decisive for King Max II's approval of this intervention . Bitter about this decision, the then director of the Botanical Garden, Carl Friedrich Philipp von Martius , requested his early retirement. According to plans by the architect August von Voit , the building could be erected in less than nine months on the north side of the garden, facing the Stachus , thanks to its modular construction made of prefabricated iron grids and glass segments .

The over 200 meters long building, which differed from the London model by a flat-roofed transverse arm, was a pioneering achievement of glass-iron architecture in the entire German-speaking area. It was soon given the admiring name of " Glass Palace ". Originally it was planned as a temporary hall that was to be converted into a huge greenhouse after the end of the exhibition. Most of the time, however, numerous international art exhibitions were shown there and artist festivals were held there. On the night of June 6, 1931, the building, including numerous valuable pictures that were currently on display, fell victim to a major fire.

For more information on the building, see the main article: Glaspalast Munich


View into the main hall
View into the main hall

After the construction company Cramer-Klett handed over the exhibition building to the Royal Arar on June 8, 1854 , the exhibition had to be set up within five weeks.

On July 1st, "[...] the majority of the exhibits for the general German industrial exhibition had arrived and the number of them was so extraordinarily large that the inner space of the magnificent building was almost too small [...] "

On July 15, 1854, the First General German Industrial Exhibition was opened. 6,588 exhibitors - almost as many as at the New York exhibition of 1853/54 - were represented, 2,331 of them from Bavaria and 1,477 from Austria. Tens of thousands of visitors from all over the world came, even crowned heads were announced. The Munich city chronicle describes the opening as follows: “The squares and streets around and near the Glass Palace were overcrowded with people, so that it was difficult for both the wagons and pedestrians to get through and order could only be maintained with great difficulty . The doors were opened at 11 a.m., the crowd cannot be described. Everyone who entered was visibly surprised by what was presented to his eye [...] "

The objects on display offered an extremely rich spectrum, ranging from pianos and spinning machines to express train locomotives.

However, this major event was overshadowed by a cholera epidemic that raged in Europe in the same year . In Munich, too, employees fell ill soon after the opening, and later exhibition guests and citizens of Munich too. On July 18, three days after the start of the exhibition, a Swiss visitor to the exhibition, the first victim of an epidemic , collapsed during a performance of “Faust” as part of the accompanying cultural program in the Munich court theater . Within two months, almost 6,000 people in Munich contracted cholera, and almost 3,000 died as a result of the disease. On September 4, 1854 alone, over 100 people died in just one day. Many trade fair visitors and wealthy Munich residents now fled the city, the streets were deserted, and the exhibition halls remained empty. At the end of September 1854 it was believed that the situation was under control and the threat of epidemics was declared over. But one was mistaken, new cases of cholera kept occurring. Even members of the royal family fell ill, such as the former Queen Therese of Bavaria , who died within a few hours of the consequences of the disease.

See also


  • Friedrich Benedikt Wilhelm von Hermann (Ed.): Catalog of the General German Industrial Exhibition in Munich in 1854 . 1st edition: Munich: Franz u. a., 1854; 2nd edition: Munich: jointly printed by G. Franz, W. Pössenbacher Wtw., 1854; 3rd edition: Munich: Franz, Pössenbacher, Rösl, Schurich, Weiß, Wild, 1854.
  • Official report on the general exhibition of German industrial and commercial products in Munich in 1854 . Munich: Franz, 1855 (2 volumes: main volume and panel volume)
  • Friedrich Benedikt Wilhelm von Hermann (ed.): Report of the assessment commission at the general German industrial exhibition in Munich in 1854 . Munich: Franz, 1855; Digitized via Google books
  • Georg Mayr (ed.), Carl Schleich jr. (Fig.): Munich 1854 during the industrial exhibition. Munich 1854 pendant l'exposition de l'industrie allemande . Munich: Seel, 1854. Note: contains steel engravings (city map of Munich approx. 1:20 000, views of the Bavaria, the glass palace, its side hall and the portal of the old botanical garden).
  • Eberhard A. Jonák: Report on the General German Industry Exhibition in Munich in 1854, submitted to the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Prague . Prague: Calve, 1855.
  • Collection of writings relating to the General German Industrial Exhibition in Munich in 1854 or which were collected on the occasion of the same . Munich etc., 1854
  • Franz von Kobell : To the reception of Her Majesties the King Maximilian II and Queen Marie of Bavaria at the opening of the German Industrial Exhibition in Munich on July 15, 1854 . In: Collection of writings relating to the General German Industrial Exhibition in Munich in 1854, vol. 5. Augsburg, 1854. (Festgedicht, 2 versions published)
  • J. Gerstner: The leader in the glass pallaste in Munich at the industrial exhibition of the German states from July 15 to October 15, 1854. With 2 plans . Munich: Chr. Kaiser, 1854.
  • Karl Emil von Schafhäutl: The German pianoforte art was represented at the general German industrial exhibition in Munich in 1854 . Munich, 1855
  • Kenneth E. Carpenter: European Industrial Exhibitions before 1851 and Their Publications . Technology and Culture, Vol. 13, No. 3 (Jul., 1972), pp. 465-486.

Web links


  1. Source: Stadtchronik München, quoted from: Landeshauptstadt München (Hrsg.): Rathaus-Umschau , Edition 132 of July 14, 2004, p. 7. ( ( Page no longer available , search in web archives: PDF ))@1@ 2Template: Toter Link /
  2. Source: Stadtchronik München, quoted from: Landeshauptstadt München (Ed.): Rathaus-Umschau , Issue 132 of July 14, 2004, p. 8. ( ( Page no longer available , search in web archives: PDF ))@1@ 2Template: Toter Link /
  3. This second cholera catastrophe in Munich within a few years (as early as 1836, around 2000 people fell ill in an epidemic, almost half of whom died) was to be the occasion for Max von Pettenkofer's life's work. A “Commission for Scientific Research into Indian Cholera”, which was immediately installed, commissioned the renowned professor of medicinal chemistry to research the causes and spread of cholera in order to be able to contain it. Pettenkofer was also initially infected, but recovered. He soon found the cause: At that time there was neither a regulated drinking water supply in Munich, nor an orderly disposal of waste, faeces and sewage. However, it would take decades and a renewed outbreak of cholera before a sewer system was built in Munich from the 1870s.
    Pastor Sebastian Kneipp's biography was also influenced by the cholera death of his father during this epidemic. At that time, Sebastian Kneipp caused a stir with the successful treatment of numerous cholera sufferers in his homeland in Allgäu and was given the nickname “Cholera Chaplain”. The first handwritten Kneipp cure regulations from 1854 have been preserved.
  4. ^ Christian Sepp: Ludovika. Sisi's mother and her century. Munich 2019, pp. 267/268.
  5. on this aspect see the detailed article in the "key wiki" ( Memento from August 22, 2007 in the Internet Archive )