EXPO as a record of progress

Sept 27. Kazpravda

By Tatiana Obolenskaya

EXPO as a record of progressThe World Expo is the best opportunity for every host country to make every effort to demonstrate its social, economic and cultural achievements and prospects to the world and a vivid reflection of the progress of human society as well as its dream for the future.

During the long course of human history, the World Expo not only demonstrated the fruitful achievement of different times, but also reflected people’s deep understanding of industry, science and technology, culture and ethnicity. At the same time, the history of World Expo is also a history of people’s evolving and advancing evaluation of the civilization they have created.

To some extent, the Industrial Revolution gave birth to the modern World Expo, as the original intent of the World Expo is to display the achievements of different countries’ Industrial Revolution. The 1851 London World Expo is universally recognized as the first modern World Expo, which was called the “Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations”. Ten countries were invited to participate in the 160-day event, which attracted over 6.3 million visitors.

At the exposition, China exhibited its Yung Kee Silk, which was characterized by ethnic features and was awarded a gold prize. The Expo does not include any direct transaction, a practice that was inherited by the following Expos. The 1851 Expo was held in Hyde Park in London. The pavilion was constructed with steel and glass curtain, so it was call the “CrystalPalace”.

The 1900 Exposition Universelle in Paris was called the “Evaluation of a Century”, which inherited the technology-centered tradition of the Expo and displayed the technological achievements of the 19th century. The Expo attracted an unprecedented audience of 48.10 million, exceeding the number of visitors in previous Expos by far. At this Expo, the event reached its peak compared to the Expos in the 19th century, which were mainly about the Industrial Revolution. After that, the impact of the Industrial Revolution on the Expo weakened, and technology began to fade out of the center of the Expo. The Exposition Universelle in 1900 was a turning point in the history of the Expo, and such a success was not seen during the first half of the 20th century.

The 1933 Chicago Expo was another significant event in the course of the Expo’s Development. The Expo was held at a historic time when America was beginning to recover from the Great Depression of the 1930s and Chicago was celebrating the 100th anniversary of its foundation. In all, 47 countries participated in the exhibition and 38.30 million people attended the event. This Expo also featured two creations, which were inherited by the following Expos. Firstly, for the first time in history, the Expo was explicitly given a theme – “Century of Progress”. Henceforth, every Expo has an officially declared theme. Secondly, it started the history of large corporations building pavilions in the Expo Site. The Expo allowed large corporations, including motor companies like GM, Ford and Chrysler, to establish dedicated pavilions, a practice welcomed by both entrepreneurs and visitors.

The 1958 Brussels Expo was the first World Exposition after the World War II, which was held at a time when people were rebuilding their homes on the debris of war and reestablishing their faith in progress. The theme of the Expo was “A world view — A new humanism”, which symbolized a shift of emphasis from technology-centered ideas to humanism. This shift is reflected by a symbol of that Expo – the Atomium, which was a gigantic structural model of atoms, representing human being’s use of atomic energy in a safe and peaceful way.

Japan was a defeated country in the World War II and began to focus on economic development and national revival when the war ended. In June 1964, the Japanese government decided to bid to host the 1970 Osaka Expo, and was granted the right to host the event in September 1965. The Osaka Expo drew 76 countries and four international organizations to participate in the exhibition and 64 million visitors to attend the event – the largest number of visitor in the history of the Expo as of 2000s.  The Expo greatly improved the development of transportation, high-end residential communities, business facilities, tourism and cultural exchange facilities in Osaka, fostered the rise of the Osaka-centered city cluster of the Kansai region, and therefore played a significant role in the development and distribution of Japan’s national economy. The 1970 Osaka Expo was also the first World Expo held in an Asian country.

In 1988, BIE (Bureau of International Expositions) reclassified the World Expo into registered expositions and recognized expositions according to nature, scale and exhibition period. A registered exposition (originally Universal Expositions) is a comprehensive exposition under a certain theme at the pavilion built by the participating country and lasts not more than six months without any area limitation for the site; while a recognized exposition (originally Specialized Exposition) highlights professionalism like ecology, meteorology, environment protection, science and technology, chemical engineering, medicine, ocean, information, urban construction, traffic and transportation, food and horticulture and lasts less than three months at a site of not more than 25 hectares, where pavilions are provided by the host country for free to the participating country. It has been stipulated that a registered exposition will be held for at least every five years from 1995 and it is allowable for a recognized exposition between two registered ones. It will be at least 15 years before a country hosts an exposition again. The candidates’ bidding for the exhibition is decided at the BIE Congress by all the deputies through casting a vote.

From the 20th to the 21st century, people had experienced a transition form subjugating nature to respecting nature. Apart from the development of the city itself, the Expo began to pay attention to the whole earth and global issues such as ecology and environmental protection. The numerous wars of the past century intensified people’s longing for peace. So the World Expo was viewed by people from around the world as a bridge towards eradicating misunderstanding, improving relationships and resolving contradictions.

Based on the above ideas, when considering the scope of theme, the serious organizer of the Expo 2000 Hanover decide to choose the protection of resources as an important topic, which is in line with the trend of the time.

The 2005 Aichi Expo Japan, the most recent registered Expo, was given the theme “Nature’s Wisdom”, which presented a global perspective and reflected people’s attitudes toward nature, society and future.

The Expo Zaragoza -2008, the latest recognized Expo, was a great global event with the theme on the dynamic relation between water and human society. This Expo was a global supportive program with profound impact that was based on a recurring concept: water and sustainability.

The organizers of Expo in the 21st century wish to, through the use of rich means of exhibition, review the process of how people are using wisdom and technology to reconnect themselves with nature, from which they have been moving away. The Expo in the 21st century is still full of life, and will play an important role in promoting world peace and development.