The Empire Exhibition of 1938 was a major international exposition held in Bellahouston Park, Glasgow. Its purpose was to showcase the achievements of the British Empire, promote trade, and strengthen imperial bonds. It attracted over 13 million visitors during its six-month duration, yet today there is so little evidence remaining that most people are unaware of its existence, even if they regularly use the park. Whilst overshadowed by WW2, the Exhibition remains a significant historical event, providing insight into the cultural, economic, and political heritage of the British Empire. The Glasgow School of Art has produced significant research into this event, including the production of a meticulously researched photo-real, 3D model of over 100 buildings and structures that comprised the Exhibition, video interviews, recollections of visitors, co-design by schoolchildren, and immersive experiences in game engines and VR.

The School of Innovation and Technology (formerly Digital Design Studio) at Glasgow School of Art has been involved in research relating to this exhibition for over twenty years.

There are 5 different projects researching this event.

British EmpireExhibition, Glasgow 1938 (2004-2006,AHRC-funded)

In 2006, the British Empire Exhibition, Glasgow 1938 project produced a well-researched and constructed, photo-real, 3D model of the over 100 principal buildings and structures that comprised the Exhibition together with an accurate 3D map showing the relationship of the various buildings, road and pathways and water features, to the topography of Bellahouston Park. This project also created an archive of related cultural assets and video interviews recording opinions of experts in the fields of architecture and architectural history as well as the recollections of members of the public who attended the Exhibition in 1938.

The website from this project,, includes an interactive map of the exhibition, a selection of the digital archive material, video interviews, and text with further information and insight into the Exhibition.

There are also a selection of video flythroughs of the 3D mode produced by this research available on youtube.

Clip 1

Clip 2

Clip 3

3D model, aerial view of Bellahouston Park containing over 100 buildings that made up the British Empire Exhibition, Glasgow 1938 (2004-2006,AHRC-funded)

The data produced for this project has enabled further research. Explore it below.

1)    Enhancing Engagement with 3D Heritage Datathrough Semantic Annotation (2010-2011, AHRC-funded)

2)    Research Engagement through Virtual ImmersiveTools for Learning (REVISIT) (2015-2016, AHRC-funded)

3)    Another View of the Empire (2015, Master's research project)

4)    Decolonized Narratives of the British EmpireExhibition of 1938 through Immersive Digital Trails (2023, Master’s research project)

Learn more here
Asset 2
Asset 4