Urso Chappell’s ExpoMuseum Blog: May 2007

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.