General Regional Exhibition in 1894 in Lviv

29.11.2011
A portion of a poster advertising the Exhibition
Courtesy of Szablowska A., Senkiw M. Plakat polski. 2010
A portion of a poster advertising the Exhibition
Courtesy of Szablowska A., Senkiw M. Plakat polski. 2010


Galicia participated in the World’s Fair in Vienna in 1873 as a crown land of the Austrian Empire. This led to two small agricultural-industrial exhibitions, one in Lviv (1877), the other in Krakow (1887); the General Regional Exhibition in 1894 was therefore an extension of an already established tradition.

On 29 June 1892 a gathering was held that included representatives from all counties, professional organizations and businesses. It was at this meeting that they decided to organize a General Regional Exhibition in Lviv. A public statement issued by the Exhibition’s Executive Committee claimed that the exhibition would benefit the entire Galicia region; that it would demonstrate Galicia’s progress and would include all aspects of life in the crown land.

The Exhibition was conducted under the patronage of the Austrian Emperor Franz Josef and was timed to coincide with the 100 year anniversary of the Kosciuszko Uprising of 1794. Prince Adam Sapieha led the organizational committee, Dr. Zdzislaw Marchwicki was chosen as General Director; Stanislaw hr. Badeni, Steward of Galicia and head officials of two of the crown land’s largest cities: Edmund Mochnacki of Lviv and Jozed Friedlein of Krakow were also part of the Exhibition’s Executive Committee.

Adam Sapieha and Dr. Zdzislaw Marchwicki
Photo from: Przechadski po Wystawie Krajowej. 1894
Adam Sapieha and Dr. Zdzislaw Marchwicki
Photo from: Przechadski po Wystawie Krajowej. 1894

The territory that was to be used required a lot of work to ensure the success of the General Regional Exhibition.

One of the most important aspects was establishing convenient transportation links so that visitors could get to Stryiskyi Park. Organizers were forced to seek an alternative to steam or horse drawn trams because negotiations had stalled.

Electric Tram near the square on what is now I. Franko Street
Fragment of a photo taken by E. Tshemeskyi, 1894. From the collection of the Lviv Historical Museum
Electric Tram near the square on what is now I. Franko Street
Fragment of a photo taken by E. Tshemeskyi, 1894. From the collection of the Lviv Historical Museum

In 1893, after lengthy negotiations, the City Council awarded Siemens & Halske the concession to build and run an electric tram in Lviv. The tram was operating by June 1894; it connected the main train station to the city center and on to the site of the Regional Exhibition. Siemens & Halske invested nearly 660 000 zloty to create this tram network.

A narrow gauge railway functioned on the fairgrounds to transport cargo and materials. A specially equipped cable car or gondola, connecting the ethnographic area of the exhibition with the main pedestrian thoroughfare, was installed for the convenience of visitors.
Cable Car
Photo by E. Tshemeskyi, 1894, from the collection of Ihor Kotlobulatov
Cable Car
Photo by E. Tshemeskyi, 1894, from the collection of Ihor Kotlobulatov

A special commission oversaw communication issues during the Exhibition. Every day, additional trains arrived to Lviv from Krakow and Chernivtsi; the price for tickets on these trains was reduced. There were also discounted fares on trains coming from Vienna, Bern, Prague, Cieszyn and Pest.

The experience officials obtained from the First Regional Agricultural and Industrial Exhibition in 1877 caused them to devote significantly more attention to planning the exhibition in 1894. The City Council, at a meeting on 1 December 1892, adopted a resolution that the Lviv Gmina would participate in the exhibition; they allocated 30 000 zloty for this purpose. Later they allocated an additional 10 000 zloty for a separate exhibition hall which would house the displays of the city’s activities.

The city council also helped cover the cost of modifying Stryiskyi Park so that it was more conducive to the exhibition’s needs. Specifically, this included revamping the upper terrace, constructing the main thoroughfare and running water and sewer lines as well as installing gas lights. During the exhibition the city also provided fire service. After the Exhibition ended the city bought the buildings which were left on the territory of Stryiskyi Park. Overall, the General Regional Exhibition in 1894 cost the city nearly 600 000 zloty.

In addition to the direct expenses incurred by hosting the exhibition, in 1894 decisions were made to modernize the city in accordance with European models. They approved a series of resolutions aimed at improving Lviv’s infrastructure. Specific improvements included the construction of a water supply, a new slaughterhouse, increasing the number of schools, constructing a new theater building, implementing regulations for streets and squares which included cobbling and improving the lighting. The projected investment necessary for modernizing the city was nearly 7 million zloty. Holding the exhibition in Lviv became a catalyst for undertaking important infrastructure projects which were needed for Lviv’s further development. In this way the Exhibition started a new and important epoch for the city.

Opening Ceremonies of the General Regional Exhibition
Photo by E. Tszemeski, 1894, from the collection of Ihor Kotlobulatov
Opening Ceremonies of the General Regional Exhibition
Photo by E. Tszemeski, 1894, from the collection of Ihor Kotlobulatov


The General Regional Exhibition’s grand opening was held on 5 June 1894. After a mass in the Latin Cathedral all the guests gathered on the square in front of the industrial pavilion for the opening ceremony. Among the notable guests at the ceremony were: Archdukes Leopold Salvatore and Carl Ludwig, Ministers Falkenhayn, Yavorski and Madeyski. After a speech made by Prince Adam Sapieha in Polish and by Dr. Damyan Savchak, member of the Regional Department in Ukrainian the Archduke Carl Ludwig announced that the exhibition was officially opened. The exhibition was divided into 34 thematic groups, which each had their own exhibition areas, organizational committee and judging panel. During the Regional Exhibition there were horse, cattle and dog shows, as well as gardening, farming and poultry shows. On the territory of the exhibition there were also gatherings of specialists from different segments of agriculture and industry.

At the exhibition displays occupied more than 125 special buildings and pavilions. In the Exhibition’s catalogue nearly 2870 entries detailed products, equipment and other materials related to farming, farms, crafts, industrial activity or small businesses. At the exhibition one could also learn about new trends in architecture and construction, fire safety, how infrastructure and communications were developing and see various new inventions. Simultaneously there was significant attention devoted to art (nearly 800 entries, two thematic groups and four specialized pavilions), the dissemination of education in Galicia and ethnography at the General Regional Exhibition.

The ethnographic section occupied a separate space at the exhibition and demonstrated the way of life and main activities of four Ruthenian ethnographic groups (Hutsuls, those from Polisia, Podilia and those living around the Dnipro) and 2 Polish groups (Mazurs and those from the Tatar Hills near Zakopane). A wooden church with bell tower was built on the territory along with houses and mansions filled with household items and tools.

Natives from the regions depicted lived in the houses situated in the ethnographic section. They wore their traditional attire and occupied themselves with traditional domestic chores and activities to demonstrate the unique characteristics of their ethnographic group. Goods produced in cottage industries, clothing, ceremonial objects, photographs of peasant life, a library with Ivan Franko’s books on ethnography and Aleksandr Czołowski’s artifact collection were displayed in a separate pavilion.

This section was very popular among exhibition visitors and many guests came specifically to see this section. In addition to the touristic and recreational attraction, visiting the exhibition had an important educational aspect for countless school trips from all over Galicia. From 5 June through 16 December 1 146 329 individuals visited the exhibition.

Without a doubt, the most authoritative guest at the General Regional Exhibition was Austrian Emperor Franz Josef who made an appearance during his visit to Lviv from 7 to 10 September 1894.

Lviv at the time of the Exhibition can be seen by viewing The Map of the Royal Capital City Lviv which includes the layout of the General Regional Exhibition.

Map ID: 090
Original Title: Plan król. stoł. miasta Lwowa
Localization: Lviv
Year: c. 1895
Scale: 1:7 200
Map Size: 82х70 cm
Publisher: Municipal Council. Lviv
Source: Courtesy of Ihor Kotlobulatov
Copyright: Ihor Kotlobulatov. Lviv
Plan of the Royal and Capital City of Lviv prepared by J. Chowaniec shows General Regional Exhibition, network of sewerage system and schemes of the horse tram and electric tram
Plan of the Royal and Capital City of Lwow


Author: Serhiy Tereshchenko