Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

World's fair

World's Fair is the generic name for various large expositions held since the mid 19th century. The official sanctioning body is the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE)

Of the BIE approved fairs, there are universal and international or specialized, lasting from 3 to 6 months in duration. In addition, countries can hold their own 'fair', 'exposition', 'exhibition', without BIE endorsement.

Table of contents
1 Universal expositions
2 International or Specialized expositions
3 After the Fair
4 See also
5 External Links

Universal expositions

Universal Expositions encompass universal themes that affect the full gamut of human experience, usually at a unique period of time for mankind. Universal expositions are usually held less frequently than specialized or international expositions because they are more expensive. To distinguish them from lesser fairs, they require total design of pavilion buildings from the ground up. As a result, nations compete for the most outstanding or memorable structure - recent examples include Japan, France, Morocco & Spain at Expo '92. Recent Universal Expositions are Brussels Expo '58, Montreal Expo '67, Osaka Expo '70, Seville Expo '92 and Lisbon Expo '98. Hanover, Germany's Expo 2000 was also categorized as a universal expo. Sometimes pre-fabricated structures are also used to minimize costs for developing countries or for countries from a geographical block to share space (i.e. Plaza of the Americas at Seville'92).

With the 1980s and 1990s overflowing with expos back to back, some see the BIE's moves to only sanction expos every 5 years, starting with the 21st century, as a means to cut down potential expenditure by participating nations. Indeed, quite remarkably, it is believed Australia chose not to participate in Expo '98 for this reason alone - perhaps Seville was too close and too near in time to justify another representation?

Whether or not the BIE will be successful in regulating expos to only every 5 years or so, we'll have to wait and may well be that Universal expositions will be restricted to every 5 years or so, with international and specialized expositions in the in-between years for countries wishing to celebrate a special event.

International or Specialized expositions

International expositions are usually united by a common theme - such as 'Leisure in the Age of Technology' (Brisbane Expo '88), and Universal Expositions are meant to be broader still, encompassing universal themes that affect the full gamut of human experience, usually at a unique period of time for mankind.

Specialized expositions have a narrow theme, such as the International Garden Expositions, held in Osaka 1990 and Kunming, China, 1999. Specialized and international expositions are usually smaller in scale and cheaper to run for the host committee and participating nations because the (1) architectural fees are less and (2) they only have to rent the space from the host committee, usually with the pre-fabricated structure already completed. Some say this leads to better creative content as more money can be spent in this area.

Specialized and international are similar in that the host organization provides the rental space to participating countries, as well as the building itself, which is usually pre-fabricated. Countries then have the option of 'adding' their own colours, design etc. to the outside of the pre-fabricated structure and filling in the inside with their own content. One example of this is China, which invariably has chosen to add a Chinese archway in the front of their pre-fabricated pavilions to symbolize their nation (Expo '88, Expo '92, Expo'93).

After the Fair

With certain exceptions, the majority of the structures are temporary, being dismantled at the end of the expo. Some outstanding exceptions are the remainders from Expo '92 in Seville, Spain where the 'Plaza de España' forms part of a large park and forecourt, and many of the pavilions have become offices for Consulate-Generals. The Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago is housed in the last remaining building of the 1893 World Columbian Exposition.

Some expo sites become parks incorporating some of the expo elements (Montreal Expo '67, Brisbane Expo '88, Seville, Spain Expo '92, Taejon, South Korea Expo '93, Lisbon, Portugal Expo '98).

Some pavilions get moved overseas, lock, stock & barrel; Montreal's USSR Pavilion is now in Moscow.

See also

External Links