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Exhibits refer to the act of displaying or presenting something before an audience, in order to make or give an exhibition. The word is a shorter form for exhibition. Exhibition is a term which is interchangeable with exposition, as both have a same meaning. Either of the term is often applied to a pre-arranged public fair or display of artistic, industrial or commercial productions. These industrial and artistic products are designed typically to encourage trade and to reveal cultural development. However, in strict practice, an exhibition is a display of such products or arts for a short era; whereas, an exposition is for a longer era and is generally on a better and a larger level. Both exhibitions and expositions may be regional, national, or international. Expositions have also been important for their emphasis on scientific and technological innovations.


The acts of such displays have their roots in the big commercial fairs, during the 18th century, which were once regular in Europe, to which a wide variety of goods, of fine and industrial arts, was brought to be sold. Soon it was revealed that exhibitions encouraged sales, and preparations were made to exhibit products not for direct sale but for reasons of promotion and advertising. The Society of Arts held the first such exhibition during 1756 to 1757 in England, which demonstrated the entire entries and awarded prizes for the best English manufactured goods. From there onwards, a series of exhibitions in other parts of Europe, such as Paris, started taking place. Subsequent to a third exhibition in Europe during 1802, launched by Napoleon, parallel events started being held every three years. Then in 1851, an international exposition, as we call it today, commenced an exhibition at the Crystal Palace, London. The massive success of this exhibition stimulated a series of international expositions all over the globe. The Franklin Institute of Philadelphia, U.S.A., established in 1824, held exhibitions of scientific developments periodically. Then, the American Institute of New York held annual exhibitions, which presented new products by the manufacturers and inventors. A lot of local exhibits were also taking place in the Great Britain, in cities such as Liverpool, Birmingham, and Manchester. However, due to the fact that the museums and libraries started to organize special presentations of both manufactured goods and fine arts, the importance of such local exhibitions came to a decline.


A very popular form of exhibitions since the 1970s is the blockbusters. Blockbusters are large and special exhibitions and are well-appreciated attractions for the masses. These exhibitions are usually held in museums. A blockbuster is not just bound to just one museum, as it can even be a traveling exhibition. These sorts of exhibitions attract a multitude of visitors, along with generating a great amount of revenue for the museum. The first blockbuster was called the Treasures of Tutankhamun, and it holds immense importance in the history of exhibits. Some of the most famous expositions/exhibitions and world's fairs include the Paris international expositions, the World's Columbian Exposition at Chicago, the Centennial Exposition, the British Empire Exhibition, the Golden Gate International Exposition, the Brussels World's Fair and Expo 70.


Three types of exhibits became popular during the 19th century:


- The Industrial Exhibition - only dedicated to the stimulation and growth of a specific industry or to the total industries of a particular country or region, e.g. the exhibition of leather products, of printing, of products of the British Empire, of modern decorative and industrial arts, and of housing.


- The Regional Exhibition - devoted to the memorial of a historical event. This type of exhibit was especially very popular in the United States. Examples of such exhibitions include the Tennessee Centennial Exposition, the Jamestown Tercentennial Exposition, the Trans-Mississippi Exposition, the Great Lakes Exposition, and the Lewis and Clark Centennial American Pacific Exposition and Oriental Fair.


- The Universal Exposition - based on an international scale. This kind of exhibition displayed a wide variety of products, and was sponsored by a national government. London hosted the first large international exposition in 1851. It was directed by the Society of Arts, and Prince Albert, being the president of the society at that time, took a special interest in the grounding of the event. The success of this Great Exhibition caused other international expositions to take place as well.


- The most common exhibits during the 20th century were in the form of trade fairs, especially in the U.S. Even today, different industries, for instance the broadcasting, automobile, office-equipment, and textile industries, continue with such annual fairs, in which there is a display of their most recent products. This helps them to promote sales. A large part of such an activity was also adopted by the regional, national, or international exhibitions and expositions, resulting in some of the European fairs to become exhibitions for particular. On the other hand, in the United States, the most common type of fair was the state agricultural fair.


- Exhibitions at present display latest inventions, along with being used for city, region and nation branding, and they also facilitate cultural exchange based on a theme; thus, it focuses on all the aspects of the previous centuries' exhibits. The popular exhibits in today's time include art exhibitions, such as Virginia Arts Festival, Art vs. Art, and Van Gogh Exhibit, and also miscellaneous ones like Barber of Seville, King Tut Exhibit, International Auto Show, and Scottsdale Business Showcase B2B Tradeshow, along with many others.

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