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Laura Quintrell

MA work

Materialising Informal Empire: Great Britain and Argentina on Display at the Exposición Internacional del Centenario (1910)

My dissertation charts the emergence of informal Empire at the Argentine Centennial Exhibitions (1910) in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Commissioners constructed a spectacle of events displaying Argentina's national excellence and economic progress during the Republic's first one hundred years of nationhood. It re-addresses this emotional event and counters the common view that the Argentine Centennial Exhibitions formed a pinnacle point for the construction of Argentina's national identity. Employing an interdisciplinary framework, I examine a wide range of sources from official exhibition catalogues and guides, commissioner's reports from Great Britain and France, sessions papers from the Argentine government, newspaper accounts, to photography and financial loans in order to complicate previous readings of Argentina's exhibitionary narrative. I question the national identity these objects supposedly materialised by aligning them with imperial political thought. It re-introduces the voices of participating international delegations and the consumers of the British-Argentine commercial relationship, exhibition goers, as the main actors and translators of British informal Empire in early twentieth century Buenos Aires.


  • MA Degree


    School of Humanities


    MA History of Design, 2016

  • Through the V&A/Royal College of Art History of Design MA, I was able to bridge theory, history,and object-based analysis by charting the visual and material culture of informal Empire at the Argentine Centennial Exhibitions (1910). Theoretical analysis was utilised in conjunction with visual analysis of objects and textual interpretation to create a dialogue between historians of empire, design historians and exhibition specialists. I investigated a variety of themes including commissioner agency, the organisation process, the ambition and motivation behind the event, corporate partnerships, display strategies, and consumption. 

  • Degrees

  • BA Art History & History, cum laude, Mount Holyoke College, USA, 2012; Diploma, Portuguese, Imperial College London, 2015
  • Experience

  • Curatorial team member, History of Design, Show RCA 2015, Royal College of Art, London, 2015; Intern, Collections Management, The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, Ohio, 2014; Intern, Prints and Drawings, The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL, 2013; Curatorial team member, Royal College of Art Collaborative Project, Great Western Studios, London, 2013; Volunteer, The European Galleries 1600–1815 Project, The Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 2013 ; Summer college intern, The American Wing, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY, 2012
  • Awards

  • The Louise Fitz Randolph Fellowship in Art, Mount Holyoke College, 2014–15
  • Publications

  • 'Representations of Soft Empire: Great Britain and Argentina on Display at the Great Britain and Argentina on Display at the Exposición Internacional del Centenario (1910)', London: V&A/RCA History of Design Graduate Publication, 2015; Tania Messell, Charles Ormrod, Nicholas Peters, Laura Quintrell, Jo Tierney, ‘Luxury Online Retail’ in ‘Experimental research frameworks for contemporary design history Postgraduate Student Workshop Royal College of Art', May 2013 (online); ‘Everyday Design at the Cleveland Museum of Art’, Unmaking Things, 2013 (online)