The Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) is the intergovernmental organisation in charge of overseeing and regulating World Expos, Specialised Expos, Horticultural Expos and the Triennale di Milano.
170 years ago today, the United Kingdom invited ‘All Nations’ to the Great Exhibition of 1851. Taking place in Hyde Park between 1 May 1851 and 11 October 1851, Expo 1851 London was an occasion for the United Kingdom and international participants to showcase human progress, notably in the area of industry and technology.
Here are some interesting facts about this unique global event:
Desertification, and specifically the loss of fertile arable land, is a phenomenon that poses a major threat to global food production, particularly in the developing world. About 12 million hectares of arable land is lost to erosion each year, and it is estimated that land degradation in the next 25 years has the potential to reduce global food production by up to 12% (UNCCD).
Vaccine wastage is a global problem: WHO estimates that up to half of all vaccines are lost every year, largely due to the vials not being stored at the right temperature during storage and transport.
For this reason, many children miss out on essential vaccinations. To help combat this issue, Expo 2020 Dubai’s Global Best Practice Programme selected the UNICEF Drones Programme, which works towards efficiently delivering vaccines via drones, as a way to spotlight and expand the initiative on a global scale.
At least 2.2 billion people are blind or visually impaired. That’s more than a third of the global population who may have difficulties with daily tasks that are dependent on the ability to see correctly: checking expiration dates, distinguishing colours, reading instructions, etc.
On 1 October 2021, Expo 2020 Dubai will open to the public, embarking visitors on a discovery of its theme, “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future”, through educational and immersive exhibitions and events. Less than six months before it opens, the achievements of the Expo Live programme demonstrates the real-life impact that Expo 2020 Dubai is already having around the world. Yousuf Caires, Senior Vice President, Expo Live, explains the importance of this unique initiative and offers a glimpse of how Expo 2020 Dubai is delivering positive change.
World Expo 2025 Osaka, Kansai will open to the public in 1,500 days, embarking millions of visitors on a six-month discovery of its theme “Designing Future Society for Our Lives”.
On this occasion, Hiroyuki Ishige, the Secretary-General of the Japan Association for the 2025 World Exposition, sets out the vision for the World Expo as well as the various programmes being organised in preparation for the event.
On 4 February, the United Nations and countries around the world are marking, for the first time, the International Day of Human Fraternity. Maher Nasser, the Commissioner-General of the United Nations at Expo 2020 Dubai, takes this occasion to explain the significance of this new International Day and to reflect on the role that World Expos can play in reaffirming and strengthening global solidarity.
On 1 December 2020, the 167th General Assembly of the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) formally recognised the 23rd edition of the International Exhibition of Triennale Milano, taking place between 20 May and 20 November 2022 under the theme “Unknown Unknowns”. To mark this important step, Stefano Boeri, President of Triennale Milano, reflects on the past, present and future of the International Exhibition of Triennale Milano.
It was 165 years ago that Expo 1855 Paris, France's first World Expo, drew to a close. Here are some interesting facts about this singular event:
It was the event that welcomed a new century and showcased the greatest arts, creations and technologies from around the world. World Expo 1900 Paris, which closed its gates 120 years ago today, was a transformational event for Paris, for France and for the world. Discover five interesting facts about this historic gathering:
It has been five years since Expo 2015 Milan closed its gates to the public after a six month immersive journey around the theme of “Feeding the Planet, Energy for life”. Here are some interesting facts about the most recent World Expo:
On 31 October 2010, the most visited Expo in history - World Expo 2010 Shanghai - closed its gates to the public after 185 days. The transformative event embarked tens of millions of visitors on a journey into the theme “Better City, Better Life”, and left a lasting impact on Shanghai, China, and the world. Here are a few interesting facts about this truly groundbreaking World Expo:
Al Wasl Plaza, designed by Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture, will be the centrepiece of Expo 2020 Dubai. With one year until the opening of the World Expo, Gordon Gill explains what Al Wasl Plaza is, and shares his thoughts on how this central hub will make a dramatic impression on visitors to Expo 2020 Dubai and have a lasting impact on Dubai.
140 years ago today, the capital of Victoria, Melbourne, welcomed the first World Expo in the southern hemisphere under the theme of the Arts, Manufactures and Agricultural and Industrial Products of all Nations. Here are some interesting facts about World Expo 1880 Melbourne:
On the occasion of the 10th anniversary of Expo 2010 Shanghai, the World Expo Museum has launched a call for all those involved in the World Expo to share their photos of the event.
The shared photos will be in the running to feature in a commemorative image exhibition set to open in October 2020 that will celebrate all the participants, staff, volunteers, visitors and citizens who participated in Expo 2010 Shanghai. The exhibition will seek to immortalise the memory of Expo 2010 by showcasing all the different people and stories that helped make the event such a tremendous success.
Preparations for Expo 2020 Dubai are continuing as the world faces an unprecedented health crisis. While the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic is affecting people’s lives in many different ways, participating countries are finding new and creative ways to interpret the theme of the Expo, “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future” and plan their pavilions. The BIE asks H.E. Shaikha Mai bint Mohammed Al Khalifa, Commissioner General for Bahrain, Paolo Glisenti, Commissioner General for Italy, Adrian Malinowski, Commissioner General for Poland, and Pyung-oh Kwon, Commissioner General for the Republic of Korea, about the journey towards the next World Expo.
The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic is changing lives around the world and raising important questions about what kind of future is best for the planet and for humankind. World Expo 2020 Dubai – now set to open to the public on 1 October 2021 following a vote by the General Assembly of the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) – will address these questions and more, as 190 countries gather around the theme “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future”.
In an interview with the BIE, Severi Keinälä, Commissioner General for Finland, Clayton Kimpton, Commissioner General for New Zealand, Fahad A. Alyabis, Commissioner General for Saudi Arabia, and Laura Faulkner OBE, Commissioner General for the United Kingdom, reflect on the opportunities Expo 2020 Dubai will bring to the post-Covid era.
Hosted in the Swedish city of Helsingborg in 1955, “H55”, was a Specialised Expo dedicated to architecture, industrial design and home furnishing. Taking place as functional and utilitarian design was growing in success, Expo 1955 marked the arrival of ‘Scandinavian Modern’ as a new genre. With prominent Scandinavian designers responding to the public’s demand for aesthetically pleasing yet practical household goods, the Expo drew global attention to the influential role of Nordic countries in advancing it.
Twenty years ago today, Expo 2000 Hannover welcomed visitors to envision what the theme “Humankind – Nature – Technology” could mean in the 21st century. Here are a few interesting facts about this World Expo:
On the occasion of International Museum Day on 18 May, and coinciding with the 10th anniversary of Expo 2010 Shanghai, the World Expo Museum (WEM) has released "See the world", a series of miniature-films recounting some of the most memorable World Expos in history.
Having been inaugurated on 1 May 2017, the World Expo Museum (WEM) in Shanghai is now three years old, and is today more than ever a hub for exploring and celebrating Expo memories.
Fastening clothes and accessories may seem too simple to be the focus of an important innovation. Indeed, visitors to World Expo 1893 Chicago may have seen Whitcomb Judson’s “Clasp Locker” on display without realising how this device would be the predecessor of an overlooked everyday innovation: the zipper.
85 years ago today, Expo 1935 Brussels opened its doors to visitors from all over Europe and the world. Here are a few facts about the World Expo that you might not have known:
Widely known as La Ville Lumière or the ‘City of Lights’, Paris is famed for its streetlights, first tested in the late 18th century and which became a symbol of the city during the Belle Époque. It was when the whole world was in Paris, during World Expo 1878, that one of the most advanced forms of electrical lighting of its time – the Yablochkov candle – made its debut.
Taking place in the world’s largest economy and in midst of the second industrial revolution, World Expo 1904 St. Louis introduced many new technologies and innovations to the public. One of these innovations was the X-ray machine, a fledgling technology that has revolutionised healthcare.
Most modern products are the result of years of continuous innovations. The washing machine is one such product. For years, innovators have been looking into this household chore to save time, energy and water. One of these innovators, Richard Lansdale, took the opportunity to showcase his creation – the Compound Rotary Washing Machine – at World Expo 1862 in London.
In 2020, voice recognition technology can be used by anyone with a smartphone. Back in the 1960s, the idea of a human operating a machine by using vocal commands seemed like science fiction. Visitors to World Expo 1962 Seattle – the Space Age Expo - were therefore amazed by IBM’s Shoebox – an early computer that responded to voice controls.
World Expo 2005 Aichi, which opened its gates 15 years ago today, was the venue for numerous technological innovations, including the Super Hi-Vision Theater - where the public was introduced to what is commonly known as Ultra HDTV for the first time.
The chances are that most people reading this blog post are doing so via a touchscreen, a ubiquitous part of modern life whether it be on phones, tablets, or supermarket checkouts. Though it is very much a 21st century phenomenon, the history of the touchscreen goes back decades, with Expo 1982 Knoxville being the venue for the first public showcase of this technology.
Inventors and entrepreneurs have long been hoping to harness the power of the sun as a long-term source of sustainable energy. French mathematics professor Augustin Mouchot was a precursor, when he first demonstrated the potential of this form of energy, showcasing the parabolic solar collector, at World Expo 1878 in Paris.
Present in thousands of everyday products, rubber is ubiquitous in the modern world. While it has been used in its natural form for thousands of years, it was only after the development of vulcanisation by American inventor Charles Goodyear – showcased with grandeur at World Expo 1851 London – that rubber became the widespread material it is today.
Celebrating the 100th anniversary of American Independence, World Expo 1876 Philadelphia introduced the public to a multitude of innovations, including the Sholes & Glidden typewriter, sold under the brand name Remington No. 1. While other typewriters had already been produced, the Remington No. 1 was the first to be a commercial success and the first ever to feature the Qwerty format keyboard.
In an era of rapid technological change and regularly updated devices, it is easy to underestimate the revolutionary impact of new inventions in the late 19th century. At World Expo 1878 Paris, one such invention - Thomas Edison’s phonograph, capable of recording and playing back sound – seemed so amazing to visitors that many were convinced it was a fake.
With Expos serving as a showcase for the creativity and technological innovation of their participating countries, pavilions provides an ideal element to combine both unique design and technical prowess. Such was the case with Germany’s pavilion at World Expo 2015 Milan, which boldly incorporated organic photovoltaics (OPV) – an exciting and rapidly developing form of solar power – into the structure of its “Field of Dreams” themed pavilion.
Heralding the “World of Tomorrow”, World Expo 1939 New York introduced the public to a wide range of consumer goods, offering a modern new era of accessible comfort. Among these new products were nylon stockings, an innovative item of clothing that went on to revolutionise wardrobes and fashion.
Without mobile phones, modern society would not be the same. Fifty years ago, visitors to World Expo 1970 Osaka had the first opportunity to discover what this technology offered, giving them a glimpse into a much more connected – and mobile – future.
In a world in which images and videos can be shared instantaneously to an unlimited audience, it is difficult to imagine how events were communicated and consumed by the public without modern technology. In the case of live television broadcasting, a major milestone was made with the first live address on the occasion of the opening ceremony of World Expo 1939 New York.
Expos create opportunities for businesses to stand out. They provide a unique platform to showcase new products, to measure up the competition, to be in direct contact with consumers and to test new tactics. For one particularly well-known company – Heinz – three Expos in the late 19th century marked the expansion of the small-scale family firm to a global player.
After IMAX at Expo 1970 Osaka, the A to Z of Innovations at Expos moves to another technology for public entertainment that was also launched at an Expo in Japan. This time, it was at Expo 1985 Tsukuba, and the innovation was the Jumbotron, the name for the giant screens that can be found in stadiums and major events venues around the world.
Among the many ways in which Expos have been at the forefront of innovations in public entertainment, the worldwide début of IMAX cinema at Expo 1970 Osaka is one of the most significant.
Marking the centenary of the French Revolution and centred around the monumental Eiffel Tower, World Expo 1889 in Paris was a hotbed of ambitious ideas. One of these, though it received little attention at the time, was the concept of hydroelectricity, presented by French engineer Aristide Bergès.
From the mid 19th century, industrial advancements led to a race to develop higher performance engines in order to move beyond the practical constraints of coal-powered steam engines. At Expo 1867 Paris, much of the focus was on the gas engine, where a newcomer – the Otto-Langen atmospheric engine – drew praise for its innovative efficiency.
Improvements in communications are often some of the most fascinating innovations showcased at World Expos, offering visitors a vision of a future where interactions across the world will be quicker and easier. This was the case as early as the first Expo – the Great Exhibition of 1851 in London – where an early version of the fax machine was on display.
When thinking about an electric car, most people would cast their minds to a recent invention, with new electric-powered vehicles growing in popularity as fossil fuels are replaced with greener alternatives. Few would think that electric cars go back more than a century, with one model in particular by Lohner-Porsche being the centre of the show at World Expo 1900 in Paris.
One of the three subthemes of Expo 2020 Dubai is Mobility – looking at the different ways humankind has moved around and explored. At Expo 1867 Paris, one form of mobility was advanced by the inspired creation of Benoit Rouquayrol and Auguste Denayrouze: the diving suit.
Expo 1970 Osaka – the first World Expo held in Asia – was a showcase of Japan’s rapid growth and its status as a country of technological innovation. Among the many cutting-edge creations on display, the Expo’s official clock system was one of the most impressive.
As well as the many cutting-edge technologies introduced at Expos over the years, some more ordinary – but not less important – items of daily wear have also made their début, including the bra.
From cordless elevators to machines that make water from thin air, visitors to Expo 2020 Dubai, can expect to discover a myriad of cutting-edge technologies that will shape the future, just as visitors to past Expos were offered a glimpse of what was to come.
The last week of this A to Z of Expo architects is dedicated to Eberhard Zeidler, who designed the Canada Pavilion for Specialised Expo 1986 Vancouver, in partnership with Barry Downs.
Taking the Y position in the list of Expo Architects is Seattle-born Minoru Yamasaki, who made his breakthrough as an architect by designing the US Science Pavilion for World Expo 1962 in his home city.