Urso Chappell’s ExpoMuseum Blog: 2007

20 December 2007

Expo 2010 Theme Song and Mascot

Expo 2010's theme song was presented at the unveiling of Haibao, the Expo 2010 mascot.

I'm hoping to find translated lyrics in English soon.

The frame around the video screen is meant to convey the design of Chinese National Pavilion.

18 December 2007

2008 Calendar

Again this year, I've created ExpoMuseum calendars in the form of large postcards. It features some important anniversary dates of past world's fairs as well as the dates of future expositions.

If you're interested in a PDF version, click on the image above.

If you would like a physical one mailed to you, send your address to Urso@ExpoMuseum.com.


The Expo 2010 authorities announced today their mascot choice. It was chosen from thousands of entries from dozens of countries. His name is Haibao (or "Hai Bao" elsewhere in their site) and there's more information about him on the Expo 2010 site.

Haibao Poses

I must admit that I find the winning entry a bit uninspired. It seems very similar to Zaragoza's Expo 2008 mascot, Fluvi. Some have said it reminds them of Gumby.

Unlike Fluvi, though, Haibo doesn't have an obvious connection to a Expo 2010's theme of "Better City, Better Life." Ironically, it seems more connected to Expo 2008's water theme or a Expo 2012's ocean theme.

The character is also meant to reference the Chinese character "ren" which means "man" or "human." Strangely enough, his wave hair reminds me of Expo '98's Gil, who had a similar wave head.

In the interest of full discosure, I should reveal that one of my designs was one of the 26,655 entries that were received. For those who are interested, here's the design I submitted in March:

City Tiger

In retrospect, having seen a few of the other entries, my choice of a tiger (2010 is Year of the Tiger) might have been a bit too obvious. My concept was to have a family of tigers that represented the sub-themes of the expo.

17 December 2007

Expo 2008 Preview

I discovered today a great video previewing the Expo 2008 site and thought I'd share it with readers. Opening day is now less than 6 months away!

26 November 2007

Yeosu, South Korea to Host Expo 2012

The members of the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) voted today selecting Yeosu, South Korea as the host for the 2012 International Exposition. Yeosu beat out two competing cities: Wroclaw, Poland and Tangier, Morocco.

Both Yeosu and Wroclaw had previously competed for Expo 2010, losing to Shanghai, China.

02 November 2007

Small Moments - Expo 98 Philippines Pavilion

We usually think of world's fairs as collections of large grandiose events, but talking with colleagues recently, I found myself reminiscing about some of the smaller, impromptu interactions I've had at various pavilions.

I've discovered, when visiting world's fairs in countries where the primary language isn't English, that English speakers get noticed, particularly since many pavilion hosts are perhaps more familiar with English than they are with the local language.

I suspect this was the case when we visited the Philippines Pavilion at Expo 98 in Lisbon, Portugal. Waiting to enter, a staff member approached us asking where we were from. I replied "San Francisco," knowing that I usually get a very positive response. Everyone loves San Francisco, after all.

Her eyes lit up and she responded that she'd "always wanted to visit... Daly City!" This was the first time I've ever gotten this particular reaction, but understandable since Daly City is known for it's large Filipino population.

Daly City is one of the few communities in the United States with a population mostly of Asian descent, but most San Franciscans think of it as an inner suburb with lots of free parking and chain stores.

In many ways, it was a wonderful reminder that living in multi-cultural city like San Francisco can be like living in a world's fair itself.

16 August 2007

Expo 2017 in Canada?

Regular readers of ExpoMuseum are by now undoubtedly familiar with the drought of world's fairs in North America since the mid-'80's. It is something I've certainly been disappointed to see as an expo advocate. The last United States world's fair was in 1984 and the last Canadian world's fair was in 1986.

Toronto had attempted bidding for 1998 and 2000 and Calgary had made an attempt for 2005. This year, we came very close to Toronto once again bidding, this time for Expo 2015, but the deadline was missed as city, provincial, and national leaders couldn't find agreement on financing.

Mexico has yet to host an international exposition, but Querétero bid for 2010.

It now looks like the next possible year a world's fair could be held in North America would be 2017, the 150th anniversary of Canadian confederation. The 2017-2018 slot would be of the smaller variety of expositions, limited in size and duration (3 months), similar to next year's Expo 2008 in Zaragoza, Spain. Four Canadian cities, so far, seem to be discussing the possibility of celebrating the anniversary with a world's fair.

Talk in Edmonton was spurred by this article in the Edmonton Journal in April.

The Hamilton Chamber of Commerce has discussed the possibility of hosting Expo 2017 as mentioned in this Hamilton Spectator article.

The most elaborate online presence is definitely the Montreal effort at Expo17.ca. It provides several compelling reasons for recapturing the magic of that city's Expo 67 50 years later.

Ottawa's mayor, Larry O'Brien, has come out in favor of his city hosting an exposition that same year as reported in the Ottawa Citizen

2017 seems a long way away. At this point, we're not even sure if we're going to be calling it "twenty-seventeen" or "two thousand seventeen" in the English-speaking world. I myself will be 50 years old (when I lived in Toronto, I discovered I was a "Centennial Baby") and will not have seen a North American world's fair since I was 19. From the perspective of a world's fair advocate in the United States, we will have had a 31-year gap in expositions on our continent, which makes it difficult in a country that's often unaware of events overseas. A whole generation has grown up not ever having known a world's fair and generations that do remember, don't know they still happen in Asia and Europe (and, perhaps soon, Africa!).

Let's hope one or all of these Canadian cities (or perhaps others) go forward with their plans to bid for 2017 and show us that world's fairs can live on in North America!

05 August 2007

Expo 2010 UK and US Pavilions

Expo 2010 begins in less than three years. With an expected 200 countries and 70 million visitors, it's not surprising that plans are well underway to develop impressive pavilions.

A fascinating example of what we have to look forward to comes in the form of the United Kingom Pavilion's plans which has already begun with a design competition. The six final designs (shown above) were announced in July.

The United States Department of State has yet to select the firm that will create its pavilion, but the expected price tag is $100 million. Under U.S. law, federal funds can't be used to for the pavilion's construction or staffing, so there is likely to be a race to collect the funds in time for planning and construction. Otherwise, the United States could suffer a repeat of its Expo 2000 experience, canceling participation at the last moment due to lack of funds.

Larger versions of the above illustrations are available here.

02 August 2007

25th Anniversary of the 1982 World's Fair, Part 2

Traveling to Knoxville last month for the Fair Day festivities on the
Fourth of July, I took a ton of photos of the event, exhibits, and
from the observation deck of the Sunsphere:

The 1982 World's Fair was my first world's fair. I was 15 years old and when we went, we didn't have time to go up in the Sunsphere itself. 25 years later, I finally got to go up!

04 July 2007

25th Anniversary of the 1982 World's Fair

This Fourth of July found me in Knoxville for celebrations related to the 25th anniversary of the 1982 World's Fair.

The video I shot in my hotel room, so I apologize for the poor quality, but it gives a good overview of the fair in the context of 2007.

It's always great to be back in Knoxville. My interest in international expositions started here when I was 15 years old. There are still little bits of the world's fair left here and there, but mostly the old railroad yard that once stood here is a beautiful downtown park.

Tomorrow, the city will open the Sunsphere to the public for the first time in years. I hope to get some video or still photos of that. Also, the East Tennessee Historial Society has an exhibit about the 1982 World's Fair. They were closed today, but I plan on visiting tomorrow.

29 June 2007

Expo 2012 Wroclaw Video

The folks in Wroclaw, Poland bidding for Expo 2012 have updated their web site and added this amazing video. A larger size with better resolution is available on their site here.

A Wroclaw world's fair would certainly be the first to feature a Hall of Serious Fun. It makes me wonder what 19th Century world's fair designers would think of us in 2007 as they designed their Halls of Agriculture and the like. I, for one, am ready for a Hall of Serious Fun. In many ways, that's what I like about world's fairs. They're serious fun!

The Hall of Tranquility reminds me much of a trend I've seen in recent years in exposition design. World's fairs can become one building of overstimulation after another. Expo 2000 in Hannover, Germany featured a chill-out space called Scape, which was a welcome respite from the rest of the pavilions. I noticed that same year that Austria and India both included areas where you could relax and escape lights and sounds. I hope to see this trend continue.

Wroclaw is competing against Yeosu, South Korea and Tangier, Morocco to host a small 3-month exposition in 2012. So far, I've been impressed with all three presentations, although the new Wroclaw video presentation doesn't seem to match the bid logo that was created earlier.

19 June 2007

Chicago Tribune Article Today

A few weeks ago, I mentioned talking to a reporter in Chicago about world's fairs.

The article came out today and it was fun to see myself portrayed as the hero.

It would be great if this article stirred up some interest in a United States city once again bidding for a world's fair or even if it just shined a light on the United States pullout of the Bureau International des Expositions a few years ago.

15 June 2007

One Year Until Expo 2008

Yesterday marked the "one year to go" mark until Expo 2008. Given the difficulty I've found in past years finding hotels during world's fairs, I'm going to try to start booking a room soon since most hotels don't allow reservations until one year before a date.

Also, I won't be making the mistake I made in 2005 and go the last couple of weeks. It seems that people all over the world share one universal trait: procrastination. If you look at attendance figures of world's fairs, there's always a huge spike right at the end.

Given the new timing of expositions (a big one every five years with a small one in between two big ones... but not in an adjacent year) and given that all three cities bidding for the 2012-2013 slot have chosen 2012, we'll have three expositions in the next five years! We won't have two back-to-back non-expo years until 2013-2014!

It's clear that excitement is building worldwide for expositions. In 2012, we might have our first Polish expo (in Wroclaw) or our first African expo (in Tangier, Morocco). In 2012 or 2015. We could have our first world's fair in an Islamic country in either Tangier (2012) or Izmir, Turkey (2015).

Notably Absent from the list of planned and potential future expos are any in the Western Hemisphere. The last exposition held in the Western Hemisphere was Expo 86 in Vancouver. With the next slot available for bidding being 2017-2018, we'll see at least a 31 year gap in North American world's fairs, very shocking given the strong history of international expositions in the United States particularly.

Let's hope the United States, Canada, or Mexico picks up the torch for 2017, 2018, or 2020

08 June 2007


After having recently done a study of world's fair mascots, I'd come to the conclusion that the 1984 Louisiana World Exposition's Seymour D. Fair was the first official mascot, but that Knoxville's 1982 World's Fair had unofficial mascots (whose names I have been unable to find).

Imagine my surprise when I saw this Flickr.com photo of "Burnie." Does anyone have any information about him or the unofficial characters that were in the parade?

02 June 2007

Expo 2010 Switzerland Pavilion

In the year or two before a world's fair, I'm always anxious to see what pavilion designs are being developed. Years ago, it was impossible to get this information beforehand. Now, with the internet, it's amazing what you can find.

Expo 2010 starts in about three years, but already preliminary designs are being unveiled. This week came news of Switzerland's plans, the result of a design competition.

Apparently, visitors will ride on ski lifts which will take them on a tour through the pavilion and onto the roof. (The articles I read called them "cable cars," but living in San Francisco, I've learned to be very picky about the term "cable car" ...but, I digress.)

Switzerland previously had a ski lift (and an indoor ski slope with artificial snow) at their Expo 88 Pavilion.

I can only imagine this will be a huge hit in Shanghai.

26 May 2007

Expo 2005 Photo Retrospective

I live not far from San Francisco's Japantown neighborhood, which means whenever I feel like an inexpensive mini-vacation to Japan, I can be there in just a matter of minutes. Japantown Center was a great resource for me prior to my trips to Japan for Expo 2005. I often go in there now, but with the next two expos in Spain and China, Japan isn't as much on my radar these days.

One of the greatest things about Japantown Center is their San Francisco branch of Kunikuniya Bookstores. While browsing through architecture books there last weekend, what should I come across, but an Expo 2005 that I'd never seen before... and trust me, I thought I'd seen them all by now.

One of the first things that struck me about the book was the logo on the front. Anyone's who's seen the 12-segment dashed circle logo for Expo 2005 over and over would see that something was a bit off with the cover's logo. However, the photos inside were fantastic and very representative of what was shown at the expo. From what I can surmise the book was created in China with Expo 2010 firmly in mind. Much of the book seemed created with the next large expo in mind. Other than the logo issue, some typos, and no mention of the Linimo trains, the book is an excellent resource for anyone planning for Expo 2010 without a mental idea of what a 21st Century exposition looks and feels like.

I've added the book to the ExpoMuseum Store if anyone else is interested in it.

25 May 2007

Digital Water Pavilion at Expo 2008, Zaragoza

Back in 1996, I went back to my hometown of Atlanta for the Olympics. In the Olympic Village, I remember seeing a display of a digital waterfall. Water flowed from a series of computer-controlled nozzles. Most of the messages were text, but it was a great display, particularly since everything falls at different rates at different times, so the text would stretch out before hitting the pool underneath.

It looks like Expo 2008 will extend the concept farther and have an entire Digital Water Pavilion with walls made of falling water.

I can't wait to see it in person!

This post violates two of my self-imposed rules: Two posts back-to-back about the same exposition and two posts back-to-back of YouTube video. But hey, I couldn't pass up sharing this.

22 May 2007

Fluvi: The Series

I try to make it a habit of checking YouTube every now and then for new Expo 2008 and Expo 2010 video. There's a good deal of video coming out of Zaragoza in preparation for Expo 2008 and I've posted what I've found at: www.ExpoMuseum.com/2008/video.

Today, found a video from the upcoming Fluvi cartoon series. Fluvi is the Expo 2008 mascot.

20 May 2007

1900 Exposition Universelle and Video

With the popularity of YouTube, it's amazing what's available about world's fairs in video. Folks are putting up their old home movies of world's fair visits as well as news accounts of Expo 2008 progress. I remember years ago waiting in the mail for brochures to get even a glimpse of what Expo 88 or Expo 92 might be like. Now, I can see footage of construction progress in Zaragoza!

Among the newer videos is some historical footage like this one.

It's great to glimpse into a world's fair from 107 years ago. I'd seen drawings of Paris 1900's moving sidewalks before. they had multiple parallel conveyors running at different speeds, so you'd jump from slow to fast and vice-versa grabbing poles along the way. However, I'd never seen video of it in action. Not only was it quite a marvel at the time, but I found myself wondering this: If a multiple-speed moving sidewalk were to be exhibited now, it would still be a marvel... and (at least in the United States) a lawsuit waiting to happen.

18 May 2007

The Expo 92 That Didn't Happen

Chicago's 1992 World's Fair logo

This week, I was interviewed by a reporter from the Chicago Tribune about the current state of world's fairs.

With Chicago bidding for the 2016 Olympics in a big way, apparently the reporters were asking why they'd never heard about world's fairs in recent years.

In discussing a couple of the biggest culprits (the bankruptcy of New Orleans' 1984 World's Fair and current politics), I was reminded of Chicago's 1992 Exposition. New Orleans might have been the last U.S. world's fair, but it was not the last world's fair awarded to an American city. That distinction goes to Chicago which was approved for a joint exposition with Seville to celebrate the 500th anniversary of Columbus's sailing to the Americas. Ultimately, it was canceled when the City of Chicago and the State of Illinois couldn't agree on who would guarantee funds for the project. The "Age of Discovery" theme at Seville's Expo '92 was originally to have applied to both cities.

I was surprised the reporter had never heard that Chicago had been awarded the 1992 expo, but I'll keep an eye out for his report... and take time to think of all of the expos that might have been, including Tokyo's 1996 project, Expo '96 Budapest, and Toronto's failure to bid for Expo 2015 earlier this year.

With any luck, we just might see a 2017 or 2020 exposition in North America that won't be cancelled.

Expo 70

When I was much younger and first learning about the history of world's fairs, two really stood out among the rest for me.

Naturally, the 1939-'40 New York World's Fair had lots to interest a high school student interested in architecture and design. I'd still say, today, that if I could go back in time and visit any world's fair, it would be this one.

However, Expo 70 in Osaka is a really close second place. Later, in architecture school, I'd learn about the Japanese Metabolist movement in architecture and Kenzo Tange, the grandfather of modern architecture in Japan and the designer of the Expo 70 site.

Currently, the site is a park with some of the artifacts of the expo, particularly the enigmatic, iconic Tower of the Sun as well as the amusement zone, Expoland.

16 May 2007

The 1982 World's Fair

One of the reasons I've created this blog separate from the main ExpoMuseum web site was so that I could talk about my personal experiences at the six world's fairs I've been to so far.

My first world's fair was the 1982 World's Fair, the Knoxville International Energy Exposition. This month parks the 25th anniversary of its opening and there's been some media attention in Knoxville surrounding the anniversary.

I was 15 years old and living in suburban Atlanta, just about a 3-hour drive from the site. Unfortunately, I only got to see it for a day and a half, but from that point, I knew I was hooked and I saw the potential for a world's fair: a truly experimental city-within-a-city to try out new forms of architecture, design, communication, and just plain fun.

15 May 2007


I just received word from Rick Barham that Expo17.ca is up and running. His group is proposing a world's fair in Montreal celebrating the 150th anniversary of Canada's confederation.

City Participation at Expo 2010

China Economic Net published an article today entitled "Cities to strut their stuff at World Expo" announcing that cities will have the opportunity to participate in Expo 2010.

I think this might be an excellent opportunity for San Francisco given its sister city relationship with Shanghai. I've previously created a web site (SFPavilion.com) that proposed something similar.

At Expo 70 in Osaka, San Francisco hosted a pavilion as a result of its sister city relationship with Osaka.


For years, folks have told me I should create a world's fair blog. I've always thought of ExpoMuseum.com's home page as my blog, but I thought it might make sense to create a separate place for me to post items I find interesting that might not rise to the level of updating the ExpoMuseum home page.

I always appreciate feedback, so let me know what you'd like to see in ExpoMuseum.com.