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Thursday, 3 May, 2001, 13:09 GMT 14:09 UK
Festival of Britain to go online
South Bank exhibition at 1951 Festival of Britain
The South Bank exhibition was the epicentre
The Museum of London is to use the internet to gather personal memories of the Festival of Britain for a planned online exhibition on the event.

The museum is asking the public to record their stories through its website, and is launching the project on Thursday, the 50th anniversary of the festival's opening.

Exhibition curators hope that some of the eight million people who visited the exhibition sites in London or took part around the country will send in their recollections.

Royal Festival Hall
The Royal Festival Hall auditorium in 1951
"We would like these memories to help shape the exhibition from the very beginning of its development," says curator Annette Day.

The museum has launched the online appeal for memories as it is keen to make an exhibition that reflects the feelings of those who lived at that time.

"There are lots of people who remember the Festival of Britain and remember it very fondly," says Day.

"We wanted to make something that was participatory, not just what a bunch of curators think the event signified."


The Festival of Britain was an attempt to shake off the traumas of World War II and raise the spirits of the people.

It was designed as a celebration of the British people, the land of Britain and British achievements.

At the heart of the festival was the South Bank Exhibition in London - a collection of modern buildings built with an eye to the future.

In other parts of London there were exhibitions dedicated to architecture, books and the sciences as well as a festival pleasure gardens.

Around the country there were 22 arts festivals in regional centres.

official plans for the South Bank exhibition
The official plans will be part of the Museum of London's online exhibition
An exhibition even travelled the coast on the festival ship Campania.

When the Millennium Dome opened it was compared - often unfavourably - with the events of the Festival of Britain.

The 1951 exhibition drew a strong attendance - upwards of 100,000 arrived on the first two days despite bad weather.


But history does repeat itself sometimes - there were many complaints in 1951 about the price of meals.

The loudest lament was that a cup of coffee cost nine shillings.

The Festival ended in September 1951 and the South Bank collection of buildings were demolished, leaving only the Royal Festival Hall.

But curators of the Museum of London exhibition hope that memories of features like the futuristic Skylon tower, or the Guinness Festival Clock will linger on.

Those with a tale to tell can log into the Museum of London website, where they can also have a taster of the online exhibition which will open in July.

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See also:

02 May 01 | Music
Festival Hall hits 50
17 Feb 00 | UK
New look for South Bank
29 Mar 01 | Arts
London's artists on the move
14 Mar 01 | Education
Museums 'bring history alive'
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