Urso Chappell’s ExpoMuseum Blog: Dispatch from Milan: Expo 2015's International Participants Meeting

11 October 2012

Dispatch from Milan: Expo 2015's International Participants Meeting

Expo 2015, the next world's fair, is 923 days away, but from what I've gotten to witness here in Milan, folks are busy as if it were sooner. It's a testament to just how much there is to do in creating a world's fair.

This week, Milan has played host to over 1000 international visitors (from 100+ countries) in Expo 2015's International Participants Meeting. This is the first time I've had the opportunity to witness the organization of a large-scale exposition in person.


At this stage, countries are still signing on (it just hit 100... and Iraq is the most recent addition). Since many developing nations have their participation subsidized by the Expo authority, the list includes many of these, but I've also noticed another trend: Countries that are bidding for future world's fairs also feature prominently. Unfortunately, many larger countries have not officially signed on, but I suspect they will soon. The United States, notably, has unofficially said we're here, but there has been no official agreement yet. Also absent, so far, is the entire English-speaking world. I suspect that will change in the coming year.


In our recent World's Fair Podcast, we spoke with Stefano Gatti, the director of international affairs and he did a fantastic job describing one noteworthy distinction of Expo 2015: Smaller and developing nations, which in the past would typically be grouped by geography, will now be grouped based on an association with a food theme. Those themes (Fruits and Legumes, Spices, Bio-Mediterraneum, Arid Zones, Rice, Cocoa, Coffee, Cereals and Tubers, and Islands) will be developed in clusters of countries, often involving countries with no geographical connection.


Here are some questions I hope to answer in the coming days:

- Presumably, Expo 2015 will have a mascot. How will this be determined and when?

- How much of a marketing effort will be made to foreign countries? When I talk with Americans about Expo 2015, they're typically interested when they hear that world's fairs still happen... and the next one's in Milan with a food theme. It sells itself... more so than Shanghai's lackluster advertising campaign for Expo 2010 in the United States.

- Corporations have a very low profile here as compared to past ones. There seems to be no plan (or room on the map) for corporate plans. Might that change?

- They expect 130 nations to participate: 60 in self-built pavilions and 70 in the pavilions clusters I mentioned earlier. Is there a plan if more nations wish to participate? The much smaller Expo '98 in Lisbon ran across this problem and had to add more space to accommodate more countries.

- What kind of connection might be made between Expo 2015 and the 100th anniversary celebrations of San Francisco's 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition? 


Naturally, I've taken lots of photos and video of this year's International Participants Meeting. I'll be posting those in the near future.

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