Ref NoRC/83
TitleExhibition Galleries
DescriptionThe Annual International Exhibitions held from 1871 to 1874 arose from an idea proposed in 1868 by The Provisional Committee of the Hall of Arts and Sciences and submitted to the 1851 Commissioners for consideration. To accommodate these exhibitions the Commissioners erected, in 1870, permanent galleries adjoining the East and West Arcades of the Royal Horticultural Society Gardens which led, by means of the North Quadrant Arcades, to the Royal Albert Hall and formed, with the South Arcades and Galleries, a continuous line of buildings round the Gardens.

In erecting the Eastern and Western Galleries the Commissioners were confident that even though the International Exhibitions should fail (and the initial proposal had envisaged ten), they would be needed to fulfil demand for space for the display of objects of science and art.

The Southern Galleries were constructed for the Exhibition of 1862 and formed part of the building of that exhibition. The central block was the property of the Commissioners and the wings belonged to the Government, the Galleries being used for collections under the charge of the Department of Science and Art. The Commissioners sold their section to the Government in 1890, to be used permanently for purposes connected with science or the arts.

In 1891, the Eastern and Western Galleries were leased to the Government for a term of 50 years, the lease later extended to run until 1966. From 1874 the Eastern Galleries had been occupied by the India Museum which was to remain there until 1956 when the Galleries were finally demolished to make room for the further expansion of Imperial College, although the north end of the gallery had been removed in 1910, also to give more land to Imperial College.

The Western Galleries were occupied until 1922 by sections of the Science Museum and from 1925, until its move to Lambeth in 1936, by the Imperial War Museum. The upper part was then used by students of the Royal College of Art and the ground floor for the aeronautical collection of the Science Museum

From 1956, both Eastern and Western Galleries were demolished stage by stage for the development of Imperial College.
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