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This exhibition is in the past. View our current exhibitions.

The display of gifts in Britain

The Prince of Wales entering the Solent on his return from India, on board HMS Serapis, 11 May 1876©

The Prince left India on 13 March 1876. He recognised that the gifts he received were of exceptional quality and design, and decided that they should be shared with a wider audience. The Prince returned to England on 10 May 1876 and within a month, the gifts were on view at the Indian Museum at South Kensington (now part of the Victoria and Albert Museum). The museum had been founded specifically to make works of art available to all and to
inspire British designers and manufacturers.

• In the first week of the exhibition more than 30,000 people visited the museum to see the gifts

• The exhibition generated £3,000, equivalent to over £300,000 in today's currency

• This money, at the request of the Prince of Wales, was used by the museum to purchase objects from India to expand its own collection

• The popularity of the gifts encouraged British firms to produce objects inspired by Indian design, and shops, such as Liberty of London, to stock textiles and other works of art from India

• After the South Kensington exhibition, the gifts were shown at seven other locations from 1876 to 1883 – Bethnal Green, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, York, Nottingham and Penzance

• The gifts were also displayed in Paris in 1878 and Copenhagen in 1882

• The funds raised from the exhibition of the gifts were used towards the construction of Aberdeen Art Gallery

• Between 1876 and 1883, more than 2.5 million people visited the exhibitions in Britain

The income from your ticket contributes directly to The Royal Collection Trust, a registered charity. The aims of The Royal Collection Trust are the care and conservation of the Royal Collection, and the promotion of access and enjoyment through exhibitions, publications, loans and educational activities.