Publication Date: Sep 2008
RRP: $45.00
ISBN: 9780980464801
Format: Paperback
Size: 165mm x 245mm
Pages: 372
Category: Australian, Sociology

Seize the Day

Exhibitions, Australia and the World

Edited by Kate Darian-Smith, Richard Gillespie, Caroline Jordan and Elizabeth Willis

Open Access

Australians have always loved a good show, as this new collection of essays demonstrates. The significance of exhibitions goes beyond mere entertainment. From the 1850s to the present, exhibitions have been a marketing tool for Australia’s advancements in global trade, migration and tourism. They have also been powerful vehicles for conspicuous consumption, civic progress, social status, and identity – be it local, national or international.

This multi-disciplinary collection presents new research on a fascinating variety of exhibitions from nineteenth-century World Fairs to late twentieth-century Expos. Contributors are leading museum professionals and academics from a range of disciplines including art history, the history of design, literary studies, indigenous history, cultural and social history and the history of science.

Seize the Day examines the complex role of exhibitions within Australia’s cultural, commercial and artistic histories. Exhibitions are dynamic sites for the construction of national identities and international collaborations, the showcasing of collecting and exhibiting practices, and the expression and contestation of race and gender. Detailed case studies explore the many facets of exhibitions – from ethnographic display to artistic competition to intercolonial rivalry – to reveal their politics, personalities and astonishingly rich material culture.

As the first book to address the exhibition movement in Australia in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Seize the Day will become the standard collection on this topic for years to come.


Carolyn Barnes – Swinburne University
Kate Darian-Smith – University of Melbourne
David Dunstan – Monash University
Penelope Edmonds – University of Melbourne
Linden Gillbank – University of Melbourne
Robin Grow – Art Deco Society of Australia
Emily Harris – University of Melbourne
Elizabeth Hartrick – University of Melbourne
Alison Inglis – University of Melbourne
Simon Jackson – Swinburne University
Caroline Jordan – La Trobe University
Ross Laurie – University of Queensland
Susan K. Martin – La Trobe University
Robert Rydell – Montana State University
Joanne Scott – University of the Sunshine Coast
Sarah Scott – Charles Darwin University
Martha Sear – National Museum of Australia
Annette Shiell – University of Melbourne
Catherine Speck – University of Adelaide
Lise Summers – State Records Offi ce of Western Australia
Jonathan Sweet – Deakin University
Elizabeth Willis – Museum Victoria
Linda Young – Deakin University

Kate Darian-Smith

Kate Darian-Smith is professor of Australian studies and history at the University of Melbourne. Her recent books include (as contributing co-editor) Britishness Abroad (Melbourne University Publishing, 2007) and Stirring Australian Speeches (Melbourne University Publishing, 2004).
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Richard Gillespie

Richard Gillespie is head of History & Technology at Museum Victoria. He is a curator, historian of science and author of Manufacturing Knowledge: A History of the Hawthorne Experiments (Cambridge University Press, 1993).
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Caroline Jordan

Caroline Jordan is an art historian and has been Australian Research Council postdoctoral fellow at the Australian Centre, University of Melbourne. She is the author of Picturesque Pursuits: Colonial Women Artists and the Amateur Tradition (Melbourne University Publishing, 2005).
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Elizabeth Willis

Elizabeth Willis is a Curator Emeritus in History & Technology Department of Museum Victoria. She is the author of The Royal Exhibition Building, Melbourne (Museum Victoria, 2004) and is an honorary creative fellow at the State Library of Victoria.
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