Mobile menu

Significance

Even before the Prince left India on 13 March 1876 he was well aware that the gifts he had received were worthy of being shared with a wider audience in the United Kingdom and was considering ways to achieve this during the long sea voyage home. Few people in the United Kingdom at this time would have seen works designed and made in the subcontinent other than people who had visited trade fairs such as the Great Exhibition. The Prince wished people to be aware of the unique craftsmanship of the subcontinent: for its intricate designs; the materials used; and the skills necessary to produce works of such superlative quality.

Engraving of an exhibition from a Newspaper

The Prince's Exhibition in Paris, from the Illustrated London News ©

As his ship neared Portsmouth, the Prince had the idea that the gifts should be exhibited at the Indian Museum at South Kensington (now part of the Victoria and Albert Museum), and sent a telegram to the curator of the museum, asking him to take charge of the gifts and arrange for them to be displayed. The museum had been founded specifically to make works of art available to all and to inspire British designers and manufacturers.