This exhibition had as its chief aim to illustrate the growth of art, industry and science during the nineteeth century. It was certainly the largest exhibition held in Great Britain up to that time and it opened on May 2nd and ran until Novenber 4th.
Many prominent Glaswegians had their names on the roll of the Guarantors. This fund was just over £500,000, but no call was made on the guarators because the exhibition made a profit of £40,000. A huge attendance of nearly 12,000,000, including a record for the last day of 173,000, was not to be beaten for a long time by any other British exhibition.
The architect, James Miller, spread his buildings over almost 100 acres in Kelvingrove Park and its surroundings, The Exhibition was known in Glasgow as "the Groveries" and the Machinery Hall was located were the present day Kelvin Hall now stands. A Sports Stadium, with grandstands, was laid out in the Universtiy grounds. The architectural style was supposedly Spanish Renaissance, but the majority of the visitors thought it more Oriental than Spanish in appearance. The syle waschosen to blend in with the new Art Galleries that were opened on the same day as the exhibition. These red sandstone Galleries, opened by the Duke and Duchess of Fife were built partly from the surplus of the 1888 Exhibition. They contained a fine collection of pictures bequethed by Glasgow businessmen during the past few years.
The outstanding features of the Exhibition were its Industrial Hall with a great golden dome on which a Statue of Light 'floated', with only the great toe of her right foot resting on the dome; the Concert Hall, with its magnificent organ later transfered to the Art Galleries; the electric lighting and the electric lifts; a gondola in the Kelvin with two gondoliers from Venice, known in Glasgow as Signor Hokey and Signor Pokey; a "Sunlight Cottage", showing how people were to be housed in the future, and some international pavilions, notably seven organised by the Russian Government as a gesture of friendship to Great Britain, but built so slowly that they were first opened six weeks after the rest of the exhibition.
Many references to the Exhibition refer to the music and the sports. Sousa had a month's season and so did the Berlin Philharmonic. Other orcestras which took part were the Austo-Hungarian, Michels Rumanian Band, the Zouave Bugle Band, and several British Military bands. Among those who appeared in the Concert Hall were Melba, Kirby Lunn and Ben Davies. Besides the football and athletic conpetitions at the Sports Stadium, cycle races were conducted on a quarter- mile track, boarded and banked, and motor car tests were organised. Every evening the cars were on display, after their return from the 100 mile run.
During the 1901 Exhibition various important meetings wereheld in Glasgow, for example, the Annual Meeting of the British Association. This encouraged the railway companies to provide cheap excursion fares from the South.. Many of the English visitors were delighted to find that Glasgow had already instaled electic tram cars, and that the meals served in Kate Cranstons tea garden, and in the other restaurants were not only edible, but dictinctly eatable.
The success of the exhibition was in some ways remarkable as it had to contend with the death of Queen Victoria and the subsequent heavy mourning, the final stages of the Boer War and an outbreak of smallpox. On the other hand, the weather during the period of the exhibition was excellent and there were prolonged spells of sunshine.