Let's start with what is a world exhibition or EXPO?
The World Exhibition or EXPO is an international exhibition, which is a symbol of industrialization and an open platform for demonstrating technical and technological achievements. Since the 1928 Convention Relating to International Exhibitions came into force, the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) has served as an international sanctioning body for world's fairs. BIE-approved fairs are of three types: universal, specialized and horticultural. They usually last from three weeks to six months. World's fairs originated in the French tradition of national exhibitions, a tradition that culminated with the French Industrial Exposition of 1844 held in Paris.
The first EXPO exhibition
(General view of the exhibition in 1851)
(Queen Victoria at the opening of the exhibition in 1851)
(The Crystal Palace, Main facade, 1851)
The first world exhibition was held in London's Hyde Park on the initiative of Prince Albert, which took place from May 1 to October 15, 1851. The exhibition was the main milestone in the history of the industrial revolution. Because of the participation of many countries, it was soon called the world one. At this world exhibition, industrial products and various craft products, machinery, production methods, as well as minerals and fine arts were presented. The main attraction of the exhibition was the Crystal Palace, erected by Joseph Paxton of iron and glass.
Three periods of the EXPO era
Since their inception in 1851, the character of world expositions has evolved. Three eras can be distinguished: the era of industrialization, the era of cultural exchange, and the era of nation branding.
(World Exhibition-1889 in Paris)
In these days, world expositions were especially focused on trade, and were famous for the display of technological inventions and advancements. For example, inventions such as the telephone were first presented during this era. An important part of the image of world's fairs stems from this first era. The famous Eiffel Tower in Paris was also built to one of these exhibitions, which took place in 1889.
Cultural exchange (1939-1987)
(Russian Pavilion at the exhibition in Chicago, 1893)
The 1939–40 New York World's Fair diverged from the original focus of the world's fair expositions. From then on, world's fairs adopted specific cultural themes; they forecasted a better future for society. Technological innovations were no longer the primary exhibits at fairs. The theme of the 1939 fair was "Building the World of Tomorrow"; at the 1964–65 New York World's Fair, it was "Peace Through Understanding"; at the 1967 International and Universal Exposition in Montreal, it was "Man and His World". The fairs encouraged effective intercultural communication for the exchange of innovation.
The 1967 International and Universal Exposition in Montreal was promoted under the name Expo 67. Event organizers retired the term world's fair in favor of expo. (The Montreal Expos, a former Major League Baseball team, was named for the 1967 fair).
National branding (1988-present)
(The main entrance of the exhibition pavilion in Paris in 1900)
From Expo '88 in Brisbane onwards, countries started to use world expositions more widely and more strongly as a platform to improve their national images through their pavilions. Finland, Japan, Canada, France and Spain are cases in point. A large study by Tjaco Walvis called "Expo 2000 Hanover in Numbers" showed that improving national image was the primary participation goal for 73% of the countries at Expo 2000. In a world where a strong national image is a key asset, pavilions became advertising campaigns, and the Expo a vehicle for 'nation branding'. Apart from cultural and symbolic reasons, organizing countries (and the cities and regions hosting them) also utilize the world exposition to brand themselves. According to branding expert Wally Olins, Spain used Expo '92 and the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona in the same year to underline its new position as a modern and democratic country and present itself as a prominent member of the European Union and the global community.
At Expo 2000 Hanover, where countries created their own architecture, the average pavilion investment was about €12 million. Given these costs, governments are sometimes hesitant to participate, because benefits are often assumed not to outweigh the costs. Tangible effects are difficult to measure, but an independent study for the Dutch pavilion at Expo 2000 estimated that the pavilion (which cost around €35 million) generated around €350 million of potential revenues for the Dutch economy. It also identified several key success factors for world-exposition pavilions in general.
The most famous achievements of the world exhibitions
By the way, the Singer sewing machine, diesel engine, electrical outlet, Popov radio, the Lumiere film projector, the Ladygin light bulb, the first serial TV, the IMAX system and even IBM computers were presented at various world expositions. All these listed achievements have received worldwide recognition and commercial use after the show at the World Exhibitions.
The forthcoming international exhibition EXPO-2017 in Astana will be held from June 10 to September 10 this year. It is expected that this exhibition will be held at the highest level and will surprise us and guests of our country with new inventions and achievements in the world of technologies, developments in the field of future energy will become world famous. For Kazakhstan this will be a breakthrough and will give prominence to our country.
Photo from expo2017astana.com