Immersive entertainment started when? 2010? 1990?Try 1793……

What was Panoramania? Find out how London pioneered immersive entertainment, and how it became the world panorama capital in an online talk given via the City of Westminster Libraries & Archives on Friday 17 September at 6.30pm BST.

Join Professor Ian Christie, an excellent and well-read speaker, to explore Panoramania!

When Robert Barker’s Panorama opened on the corner of Leicester Square in 1793, it launched a vogue for immersive spectacle that would spread around the world, boosted by Louis Daguerre’s Diorama, which arrived in London from Paris in 1823.

But despite having boasted more ‘new media’ displays than any other city throughout the 19th century, the history of London’s love affair with visual novelty remained little known before Ralph Hyde’s landmark Barbican exhibition Panoramania! in 1988.

The only surviving records are playbills and prints, such as those held by Westminster Archives Centre and the British Library. And now, thanks to digitization and online access, it’s increasingly possible to reimagine the immersive splendours that entranced fashionable London and its international visitors.

Professor Ian Christie

Ian Christie is Professor of Film and Media History at Birkbeck College, and has long been fascinated by these anticipations of cinematic spectacle. He is also an excellent, authoritative and engaging speaker. (For those interested, he has also recently published an excellent and highly-detailed appreciation of film pioneer Robert W Paul which reasserts his major place in film history)

And if this illustrated talk whets your appetite, you can view Professor Christie’s Gresham College lecture further exploring some of these media here and find out more about him you can visit and

How to join the event

All those who book will receive the link to join via email 48hrs before the event, and on the day of the event.

The talk will be 40 – 50 minutes long, followed by a Q & A. You will have the opportunity to submit questions in writing via the Q & A live chat. You won’t need a camera or microphone for this talk, as audience members won’t be seen or heard.

For a taste of a moving panorama, watch this video – the Grand Panorama of London – for an historic trip down the river Thames circa 1844 -1850.

This colossal 18 foot concertina-folded panorama in the Westminster archives collection covers a stretch running from Western Stone Wharf to Deptford Dockyard.

Book tickets for the talk here

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