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THE IMPERIAL INSTITUTE., Issue 7912, 21 May 1889
THE IMPERIAL INSTITUTE.
Sir Somers Vine, the delegate of the Committee of Management of the Imperial Institute, is now on a visit to this colony, and purposes laying before the Government a statement of the claims of the Institute for public support. Just prior to leaving Melbourne ho addressed the Chamber of Manufactures and other bodies, and is reported to have said that the purpose of his visit to the Australian colonies was to explain to the Governments and the commercial interests —first, the nature of the collections of economical and industrial products which were to be placed in the different courts of the building to be allotted to each colony ; and secondly, the system of commercial intelligence which was to run aide by side with it, and form its natural auxiliary. The Imperial Institute was the outcome of a very wide desire to perpetuate in some enduring form the recollection of the jubilee of Queen Victoria’s reign. With that object the Prince of Wales had asked every part of the British Empire to aid him in founding a national memento of which the British race might be proud, and his efforts had been successful beyond anticipations. There was now at call a sum of L 450.000, which was sufficient not only to pay for tho erection of tho building which, when completed, would be one of the handsomest architectural ornaments of the metropolis, but also to provide the minimum amount of fund specified in the Queen’s charter. The building, which was already considerably advanced, occupied the site of the Indian and Colonial Exhibition at South Kensington. The Institute required a site of six acres in extent, and the site which had been selected was in every way better than any other which could be obtained. The site was about ten acres in extent. The Indian Museum was connected with -it. It was also connected by passages with the great Naturalist Museum and with other public buildings, such as the Royal College of Music ; in fact, there were seventeen or eighteen public institutions around it. It was intended to make the institution a living museum, containing such a collection of products as any man of business would wish to inspect. It was not to be a field for the student, but was to be arranged and so treated as to be actually the place where a commercial man who wished to acquire particular knowledge about any particular thing would turn himself. The products were to be described in a comprehensive dictionary in such a manner that if anyone had doubt about a product he would be able to have within reach full information of all its peculiarities, qualities, and properties. The superintendent of each court would be a person appointed after conference with the people in the colony it represented, and he would be able to answer any fairly reasonable inquiries. The collection would be kept up to date, every obsolete and effete specimen being taken out and others put in to represent what the particular colony could do. Side by side with that it was intended to
start ft system of commercial intelligence, so that a person could not only walk in and see what a product was like, but also be supplied with information which kept pace with the article shown, and also bo told how to obtain a supply of it. This information would have to be contributed regularly, and in a manner to make it valuable to the commercial community generally. The intelligence when brought together would be dealt with by competent people and disseminated throughout the Empire. The government of the Institute was at present merely a temporary body, and the permanent form of government would be settled during the present year, each colony to have a representative. To get such a collection as he had sketched out, it was necessary to have the support and co-operation of the Government. Before the Prince of Wales left London he said to him (Sir Somers Vine): “ You will, no doubt, have opportunities of speaking to the communities in Australia and other colonies. I wish you to say from me that I cordially appreciate the munificent aid given to me in establishing the Imperial Institute,, not only as a, memorial in itself of the Queen’s reign, but as a building which every British may regard as representing that friendly unity of all parts of the Empire which I am anxious to promote, and also as a place wherein the material interests of the people of the United Kingdom, the colonies, and India may be advantageously encouraged and usefully developed.” The Prince of Wales and the governing body recognised, however, that all the objects of the institution would not be attained unless it had behind it the interest of the commercial body itself.
THE IMPERIAL INSTITUTE., Issue 7912, 21 May 1889
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