The Expo Blog is a space for posts on the history, themes, legacies and experience of Expos. It includes articles from the BIE and external contributors.
Expo 1988 Brisbane was a runaway success and a game changer for the City of Brisbane. Attracting more than 18 million visitors - more than the total population of Australia at the time - and visited by numerous Heads of State and opened by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, the Expo, with its friendly furry platypus mascot "Expo Oz" and theme song "Together, We'll Show the World" was 1788-1988 Bicentennial Australia's largest and most successful event, proudly presenting a modern and brash Brisbane to the world stage.
But what about what happened after Expo, and its "Post-Expo" legacy?
The Tower of the Sun, the iconic symbol of Expo 1970 Osaka, is to reopen to the public this weekend before undergoing structural renovations. Aside from certain rare occasions, the Tower has not been open for visits since the Expo closed over 46 years ago. This weekend’s exceptional opening will thus be a rare opportunity for visitors to rediscover the interior of the 70-metre tower, designed by Japanese artist Tarō Okamoto.
The Government of the Prefecture of Osaka initially planned for the totem-like tower to be open for one day only, asking members of the public to apply for the chance to be one of the 500 selected to visit. After over 40,000 applications were received, the Prefecture opted to extend the opening to the whole weekend, although places are still limited to 1,300. According to the Prefecture, many of those interested in visiting are from the older generation, suggesting a feeling of nostalgia from the days of the Expo.
I got a call while on break in Hawaii on the way home from Expo 1985 Tsukuba where I had served as U.S. Pavilion Exhibits Director asking me to be U.S. Pavilion Director for Expo 1986 Vancouver. I accepted and the family rerouted to Vancouver. Our two sons who had spent a year living in Japan now had to adjust to living in Vancouver. Arriving there in November of 1985, the Expo was already under construction and at that particular stage it echoed the appearance of Tsukuba coming down. It was a kind of déjà vu experience and a reminder of how close together Expos had been occurring.
Expo 86 took place between 2 May and 13 October 1986, and as it turned out this would be the last Expo in North America, although Calgary made a failed bid for 2005, and Edmonton for 2017, among others.
After serving as U.S. Pavilion Exhibits Director at Expo 1984 in New Orleans, I left the Commerce Department and joined the U.S. Information Agency as Exhibits Director for the U.S. Pavilion at Expo 1985 in the Japanese city of Tsukuba. Our family, my wife and two sons aged five and one arrived in December 1984. The theme of the expo was "Dwellings and Surroundings - Science and Technology for Man at Home" and our pavilion took Artificial Intelligence as its theme. Expo 1985 ran from 17 March to 16 September. It was ranked a huge success with 20,334,727 visitors attending and 111 countries participating, plus an impressive array of 18 corporate pavilions featuring state of the art technology including robots and giant screen presentations.
The 3,000m2 US Pavilion at Expo 1985 was in a generic building provided by the organisers, situated on a 5,000m2 plot at the north-western corner of the Expo grounds. It consisted of two courtyards, two plazas and three separate buildings: Theme Pavilion, Theatre and Corporate Pavilion. The larger and taller theme pavilion to the right and the smaller Corporate Pavilion to the left were both housed under cable tensioned polymer fabric roofs. Between them was a Trapezoid Theatre where “To Think”, a 15-minute film by Joseph Aloysius Becker, was shown. The corporate building which also included a restaurant and a gift shop housed exhibits by Texas Instruments, DuPont, Polaroid and TRW. The idea of separating out the corporate section was new to our pavilions and worked well. The Federal budget for the pavilion was US $9,535,962. Attendance totalled five million visitors.
Le Grand Palais – one of the most splendid buildings in Paris and a legacy of the city’s extraordinary World Expo in 1900 – is set to undergo a large-scale renovation, according to a recent announcement from its President, Sylvie Hubac. The aim of the works, which will take place between 2020 and 2024, is to bring greater flexibility and openness to the colossal structure, which is composed of several halls and venues.
The renovation programme will return the Grand Palais to its original splendour, removing internal walls and reusing the structure’s existing large bay windows and balconies. As a result, the capacity of the mammoth Nave – the main hall that hosts events including fashion shows, contemporary art fairs and show-jumping competitions - is set to double to 11,000 people.