EXPO is an abbreviation of the word “exposition”, which actually means an exhibition. It is special, because the exhibition is held on international scale: Exposition Universelle Internationale (World International Exhibition), Exposition Mondiale (World Exhibition) or the World’s Fair. Exhibitions of this kind are taking place since 1851, when the first international exhibition was held in London, initiated by Prince Albert to symbolize the whole new epoch of industrialization and present technical achievements. It was called as: The Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations. The Crystal Palace was a cast-iron and plate-glass structure originally built in famous Hyde Park as an exhibition hall, which unfortunately burned down in 1936. Soon after EXPO moved across the ocean and took place in the US. The first World Fair in Asia was organized in Osaka in 1970
Perhaps the most famous EXPO was held in 1900 in Paris. The exhibition was visited by 50 million people, which was a sensation at that time. Did you know that the famous Eiffel Tower was built also on the occasion of the World Exhibition in Paris in 1889? The Atomium in Brussels, the Space Needle in Seattle and the Sunsphere in Knoxville also appeared in the frames of the World’s Fair.
The original architectural constructions, presenting traditional for each country motifs in a contemporary and international context are usually created to symbolize the World’s Fair. However, it has often been the case that the time consuming and highly expensive exhibition halls were immediately dismantled after the exhibition was over.
Many famous inventions were demonstrated at international exhibitions for the first time before triumphantly marching to households: an espresso machine, matches, a sewing machine, a bicycle and a telephone, a refrigerator and a lipstick, a zipper and a dishwasher, Crimean champagne and sound films. The electric typewriter, an elevator, a combine harvester, a ferris wheel, a subway, a pendulum cableway, a trolley, as well as an electric hybrid car were also first presented at world exhibitions.
The World’s Fair
means that almost the whole world takes part in it. For example, 150 countries were represented in an area of 160 hectares during Expo 2000 in Hannover. Over the period of 5 months the exposition pavilions have been visited by 18 million people. The exhibition was held under the motto: “Humankind, Nature, Technology – a New World Comes.”
The topic on water and sustainable development was discussed in Zaragoza in 2008. Nearly 6 million visitors have seen the exhibition, organized on a relatively small area of 25 hectares. Thanks to EXPO the city constructed a tram network, a conference center, a high-tech industrial zone, a river aquarium, a new park and a two-story glass bridge over the Ebro river.
The EXPO 2010 in Shanghai broke all the records, as it was attended by 73 million people, of course, the population density of the country also played its role. The motto “Better City, Better Life” brought together 242 exhibitors from 192 countries and 50 international organizations.
During the six month exhibition in Milan in 2015, the pavilions, representing 138 countries of the world have been attended by more than 20 million people. The topic of the fair was: “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life”.
The EXPO in Astana is going to be the first World’s Fair to be held in Central Asia under the motto “Energy of the Future”. Exhibits from nearly 112 countries will be show at the area of 113 hectares. About 4 million visitors are expected to visit the city during three months period between the opening of EXPO on June 10, 2017 and the closing event to be held on September 10, 2017. Thus, EXPO is organized on different scale than common museum exhibition and this also applies to the financial side of the matter. For example, EXPO 2000 in Hanover was worth 3.5 billion German marks!
Why so much money is allocated to organize the exhibition, which lasts only for few months? Is it worth it?
The answer is YES!
The most important resource, which we own is not the minerals, but knowledge! And the main productive force is a man, as a carrier of this knowledge. The knowledge does not grow and multiply by itself. It is a process, which demands exchange.
The knowledge starts with curiosity. If a person does not want to know anything, if he is interested in nothing, it is a bad sign for the common development and learning. However, the curiosity should be “fueled”. We need a “material”, which incites curiosity. The unsolved problems, interesting facts, long-term issues and fascinating exhibits – all of this can inflame our curiousity and makes us want to move forward. Of course, we can gain knowledge at school or at university, from books or Internet, but nothing beats a live exchange! The concentrated information and interaction, exchange of experience, the emergence of new ideas and brainstorming – this is exactly what happens at the World’s Fair.
The most progressive inventions become available to visitors at the exhibition, so that even non-specialists can understand them. The exhibits from around the world evoke an enthusiastic interest in everything new and advanced and makes the visitors want to be presented while application and perhaps even the development of new ideas. The EXPO experience can blow your mind. We live in an era of high technologies. The information technologies and established networks have created a lot of opportunities to overcome spatial and temporal distance and yet a lively exchange at EXPO is difficult to replace. Any technology, even a highly advanced one, requires a human hand, to serve its purpose. Every solution is a result of correct formulation of a question.
Starting from 2000, the topic choice for World’s Fairs follows a clear trend: it is vital to set a course for sustainable development and thus, to secure the future, as we live in a globalized world with a growing population, enormous consumption of resources and a critical environmental situation, causing the climate change. In this sense, the EXPO in Astana fits well in the current agenda. The Astana EXPO topic is “Energy of the Future: Principles of Global Sustainable Development.” The focus lies on adequate and reliable energy supply in developing countries, as well as on global transition from fossil to renewable energy sources. It will not be an exaggeration to say that the current EXPO topic is one of the biggest challenges the humanity faces nowadays.
EXPO in Astana
will give us a vision of the future that has already begun. This exhibition will encourage us to shape the future. Kazakhstan will use the EXPO momentum to accelerate the transition to the renewable energy in its own country.
Due to which circumstances, has Kazakhstan become this year’s EXPO hosting country? Kazakhstan declared its readiness to organize EXPO 2017 in Astana in July 2010 at the General Assembly of the International Exhibitions Bureau (BIE) – the official organization, which declares venues for World’s Fairs. (www.bie-paris.org). In November 2012 Astana outpointed its rival – the city of Liege (Belgium) and won the right to host the exhibition.
To hold an EXPO is a great honor for the city and for the country. It also implies great responsibility. It is not just about how to organize interesting and promising World’s Fair. The whole country should be ready to accept millions of visitors, to be a good host and take care of those who came. Each of the guests after visit will be able to convey a message to the rest of the world that Kazakhstan is a hospitable and modern country.
All together we can make it.
Photo: Dagmar Schreiber.