Great Exhibition

Prominent characters

Handwritten letter from Prince Albert to A.W.N. Pugin

Accompanied by a carte-de-visite photographic portrait of Prince Albert by J. J. E. Mayall dated 1861
Copyright: RIBA Library Drawings & Archives Collections


As President of the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851, Prince Albert wrote to many eminent figures thanking them for their talents and time spent organising the exhibition.

A.W.N. Pugin

This letter from the RIBA Library Archives Collection was written on 31 October 1851 to Pugin, the Gothic Revival architect and designer. Within the letter the Prince Consort presents a medal to Pugin in honour of his contributions as a juror for the exhibition.

Pugin helped the commission further by assisting Henry Cole to make a selection of objects to be purchased from the Great Exhibition. A treasury grant of £5,000 had been received to purchase objects for the Museum of Ornamental Art at Marlborough House. This collection was later to form part of the South Kensington Museum, and later still the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Other important figures

Numerous other famous Victorian figures are associated with planning or organising the Great Exhibition. The commission included:

  • Lord Granville as Chairman
  • Prime Minister Lord John Russell
  • Sir Robert Peel
  • William Gladstone

The committee overseeing its construction included:

  • Charles Barry
  • C.R. Cockerell
  • Isambard Kingdom Brunel

Many of the men associated with the internal layout and design of the building were later involved with the Victoria and Albert Museum, for example:

  • Owen Jones
  • Richard Redgrave