This paper provides a preliminary foray into the historical role of planning exhibitions in the development of modern town planning culture drawing on the Australian experience. While the catalytic role of major expositions on urban society has been acknowledged in the literature, the staging, evolution and meanings attached to purpose-built planning exhibitions at a global scale have made only modest incursions into planning history. Such events provide a useful aesthetic and historical lens through which to understand how the objectives of planning have evolved through communication to the wider community. Our objective is to frame the role of exhibitions in different time periods through the first half of the twentieth century with reference to the Australian planning. Exhibitions in the 1910s were often attached to conferences and helped codify the aims, icons and progress of the planning movement as an eclectic, largely spatial discipline. The 1940s were arguably the golden era for planning exhibitions used to communicate and crystallize a mature and universal canon of modernist planning ideals and values as part of the post-war reconstruction effort. We conclude with reflections on a research agenda for the historiographical role of the planning exhibition.
Keywords: Planning exhibitions, planning culture, twentieth century, Australia.
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