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  • Place of origin:

    London (designed and made)

  • Date:


  • Artist/Maker:

    Collcutt, T.E., born 1840 - died 1924 (designer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Wrought iron

  • Credit Line:

    Gift of the Imperial Institute

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

The idea to build the Imperial Institute originated in the late 1870s with the idea to build a permanent Empire museum or exhibition in London. An Indian Museum (of art objects) was opened at South Kensington in 1880, and then following the success of the 1886 Colonial and Indian Exhibition the Prince of Wales enlisted the colonial representatives in a scheme to perpetuate the exhibition for the celebration of the Queen's approaching Jubilee.

The building was designed by T. E. Colcutt. The foundation stone was laid by the Queen in July 1887 and the official opening by the Queen took place on 10 May 1893 in a temporary hall as the Great Hall was not completed. Initially under Central Government control, the management of the Institute was transferred to the Colonial Office in 1907 and then to Department of Overseas Trade in 1925. The Institute provided information about trade and the buildings were used for a number of events. It housed a number of departments and exhibition galleries were used to promote trade and research. The building was also used to host overseas visitors. It was at the Imperial Institute that the National Indian Assocation held their 'At Home' event on 1 July 1909 at which Sir Curzon-Wyllie was assassinated by Madan Lal Dhingra.

In the 1950s, parts of the buildings were demolished for the expansion of Imperial College. The Institute was renamed the Commonwealth Institute in 1958 and moved to Holland Park in 1962.

Physical description

Baluster, wrought iron consisting of a rod of square section engraved with striations on the front of a pattern of alternate diagonals and parallels. In the centre of each rod is riveted a cluster of three scrolls. Of the upper three, two are on either side of the rod and one projects forwards, terminating in a stylized flower with corkscrew stamen, an embossed leaf and symmetrical scroll tendrils. Below the central rivet, adorned with an embossed stylized flower collar, are further symmetrical scroll motifs, and a single embossed palmette.

Place of Origin

London (designed and made)




Collcutt, T.E., born 1840 - died 1924 (designer)

Materials and Techniques

Wrought iron


Height: 130 cm, Width: 21 cm maximum, Width: 1.8 cm minimum

Object history note

The Imperial Institute designed by T.E. Collcutt, and built between 1887-93, was officially opened by Queen Victoria in 1893 and demolished between 1957 and 1965.

Descriptive line

Baluster, wrought iron, London, ca.1893, designed by T.E. Collcutt for the Imperial Institute, South Kensington.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

GLC Survey of London, vol.38, 1975, pp.225-227, pls 68 and 69.
John Physick, Marble Halls, London, Victoria and Albert Museum, 1973.


Wrought iron



Subjects depicted

Scrolls; Leaf; Palmettes; Flower


Architectural fittings; Ironwork; Metalwork


Metalwork Collection

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