First industrial exhibit on European continent took place 230 years ago in Prague’s Klementinum

Johann Hiebel: Klementinum (1750)

A large exhibition of Czech industrial products was organised on the occasion of the coronation of Leopold II as King of Bohemia.

Exhibition Hall | Photo:  Czech National Library

Under the name Warrenkabinet, the exhibit sought to document the contemporary development of Czech manufactories in the summer refectory of Klementinum’s Jesuit College (today’s General Study Room).

Products collected from 49 different industrial regions within the kingdom were put on show. They included textiles, mirrors and examples of jewellery made by artisans in Prague and the Northern Bohemian town of Turnov.

Maria Luisa of Spain and Leopold II | Source:  Wikimedia Commons,  public domain

The exhibit was visited by Austrian Emperor Leopold II and his wife on September 14, 1791. Newspapers wrote that the imperial couple had spent more time viewing the Klementinum’s exhibits than they had at the previous day’s ceremonial gathering of the Royal Bohemian Society of Sciences - without any signs indicating boredom.

Jubilee exhibition in 1891

A hundred years later, Bohemian businessmen organised a jubilee exhibition in honour of the original event during which they exhibited the kingdom’s latest industrial successes. It was a monumental event, which forever left a mark on the Czech capital’s architecture. The Industrial Palace in Holešovice, as well as Petřín Tower and the nearby electric funicular were all built for the occasion.

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