This article presents a brief introduction to the history and historiography of nineteenth and twentieth European expositions. Conceptualising large-scale exhibitions as transitory, yet recurrent ‘meta-media’, as specific means of communication that encompass and incorporate other communicative technologies, it presents three analytical categories, i.e. transience, spatiality, and the chronotope. With the help of these categories will it be possible, first, to overcome the type of useful, yet not completely satisfying hermeneutic readings which exhibitions as dense, materialized and completely deliberate textures, stretched over time, inevitably call, and, second, to explain their far-reaching isomorphism, i.e. ‘family resemblance’, by means of careful chrono-chorological contextualisation.