An exhibition, in the most general sense, is an organised presentation and display of a selection of items. In practice, exhibitions usually occur within a cultural or educational setting such as a museum, art gallery, park, library, exhibition hall, or World's fairs. Exhibitions can include many things such as art in both major museums and smaller galleries, interpretive exhibitions, natural history museums and history museums, and also varieties such as more commercially focused exhibitions and trade fairs.
Though exhibitions are common events, the concept of an exhibition is quite wide and encompasses many variables. Exhibitions range from an extraordinarily large event such as a World's fair exposition to small one-artist solo shows or a display of just one item. Curators are sometimes involved as the people who select the items in an exhibition. Writers and editors are sometimes needed to write text, labels and accompanying printed material such as catalogs and books. Architects, exhibition designers, graphic designers and other designers may be needed to shape the exhibition space and give form to the editorial content. Organizing and holding exhibitions also requires effective event planning, management, and logistics.
The tradition of the Universal exposition "world Expo" or "World's Fair" began with the Great Exhibition of 1851 in London; these are only held every few years, most recently in 2015 in Milan and 2017 in Astana, Kazakhstan. The Eiffel Tower in Paris was built for the Exposition Universelle (1889) and served as an entrance arch.
Modern exhibitions may be concerned with preservation, education and demonstration, early exhibitions were designed to attract public interest and curiosity. Before the widespread adoption of photography, the exhibition of a single object could attract large crowds. Visitors might even be overcome with Stendhal syndrome, feeling dizzy or overwhelmed by the intense sensory experience of an exhibit. Today, there is still tension between the design of exhibits for educational purposes or for the purpose of attracting and entertaining an audience, as a tourist attraction.
Fine arts exhibitions typically highlight works of art with generous space and lighting, supplying information through labels or audioguides designed to be unobtrusive to the art itself.
Exhibitions may occur in series or periodically, as in the case with Biennales, triennials and quadrennials. The first art exhibition to be called a blockbuster was allegedly the 1960 Picasso show at Tate in London.