Urso Chappell’s ExpoMuseum Blog: 2013

22 October 2013

Expo 2017's Architect Announced

It was announced today that the Adrian Smith+Gordon Gill Architecture Company has won the competition to design Astana, Kazakhstan's world's fair, Expo 2017.

On Expo 2017's official site:
 The winner of the International Architectural Contest for Expo 2017 revealed

Walt Disney and World's Fairs

On my separate blog, written in conjunction with the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE), I've written about the many connections between Walt Disney and world's fairs.

Part 1:

Part 2:

28 August 2013

Communicating the Benefits of Future World's Fairs: Look to the Past

I had a bit of a revelation today.

I read a lot of news articles about world's fairs -- both past ones as well as proposed ones. Many of these articles feature comments afterwards.  I think I've discovered an interesting pattern, at least in the United States and Canada.

In articles about past world's fairs, people lament that we don't have events like those anymore -- ones that bring a community together with a shared purpose and to celebrate. Oftentimes, people will mistakenly says something along the lines of "It's a shame they don't have world's fairs anymore." Sometimes you'll get the sentiment that people had more vision in the past and that we should be grateful for what was left behind.

In articles about proposed future world's fairs, comments tend to concentrate on the cost of the events: how we can't afford to have these events or that it would end badly with cost overruns and the like. Sometimes, oddly, they talk about how we should concentrate on creating infrastructure instead -- forgetting (or not realizing) that world's fairs are a good way to create civic buildings, transportation options, or even totally new communities.

How does this add up in my mind? Well, I'm still trying to figure it out, but we seem to think that we can no longer do what our predecessors did. We don't seem to think that it's appropriate to dream about possibilities in our communities.

In some ways, we think that dreaming is for "other countries" now. If we really believe that, then sadly, it will become true.

So, what can we do about it? We need to get more people to understand how we benefit, every day, from these events in the past -- not just physical infrastructure, but also world's fairs' immaterial benefits to a community. We then need to communicate that we can STILL do this today.

13 August 2013

Ekaterinburg's Expo 2020 In Trouble?

It's been interesting to see the movement against Sochi, Russia's 2014 Winter Olympics start to focus on the 2018 FIFA World Cup... and now to the Ekaterinburg, Russia's bid to host Expo 2020: a world's fair with the theme of "The Global Mind." The Expo 2020 bid is mentioned in Monday's New York Times article, but what's NOT mentioned is that there are two other cities (in addition to Ekaterinburg, Russia and Dubai, UAE) that are bidding for Expo 2020: Izmir, Turkey and Sao Paulo, Brazil.

It's been my impression from talking to insiders that Ekaterinburg and Dubai had the best chances at winning, but I wonder if many countries will start looking at the Izmir and Sao Paulo bids with renewed eyes.

The decision on who will host Expo 2020 will be made in November. Delegates from the 167 member nations of the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) will vote in Paris.

18 July 2013

So far, Expo 2015's confirmed participants represent 86% of the world's population. I put this map together tonight to show the countries that haven't confirmed yet. The ones with percentages are countries who represent more than 0.5% of the world's population:

- United States, 4.46%
- Philippines, 1.38%
- United Kingdom, 0.89%
- South Africa, 0.75%
- Ukraine, 0.64%
- Poland, 0.54%
- Canada, 0.50%

Expo 2015 opens in 652 days. I hope we don't have a repeat of Expo 2010's United States Pavilion, which was put together at the last minute... or worse, a repeat of Expo 2000's United States Pavilion which was canceled.

We need to find a way to do this better here in the United States. We need an ongoing organization dedicated specifically to fund and authorize our participation in world's fairs.

11 July 2013

Walt Disney and World's Fairs

I'm putting together a page on ExpoMuseum.com about Walt Disney and world's fairs and I'm hoping folks out there might have some information for me or can direct me in the right direction.

What's well known, of course, is that Walt Disney's father was a carpenter at 1893 Chicago and that Walt Disney himself was involved in exhibits at 1939-1940 New York, 1958 Brussels, and 1964-1965 New York (although he, himself, didn't attend 1939-1940 New York.

It's also well known that he attended 1939-1940 San Francisco and 1962 Seattle.

Mickey Mouse items were created in conjunction with 1933-1934 Chicago, but I haven't found evidence that Walt Disney attended.

In the Walt Disney Family Museum, where I work, we have awards from a film festival at1935 Brussels and I know that his family traveled to Europe that year. I haven't found evidence that they visited however. It seems likely the Disney Family could have visited 1937 Paris, as well, but I'm looking for documentation.

As far the expositions AFTER Walt Disney's death in 1966, I've heard that both the mascots at 1984 New Orleans and 1988 Brisbane were created by the Walt Disney Company, but I'm looking for proof.

The Walt Disney Company was a sponsor of the US Pavilion at 2010 Shanghai. That I certainly have information about.

Can anyone help fill in the gaps?

1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition Book

Last month, I had the pleasure of attending Cathy Maloney's presentation about world's fair gardens. Appropriately, she's the author of the book World's Fair Gardens. The event took place at the Walt Disney Family Museum, located in San Francisco's Presidio, adjacent to the site of the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition.

There, I met Laura Ackley. She's currently doing research on a book about the 1915 world's fair in time for its centennial in 2015.

For more information about her efforts, visit SF1915.com.

09 July 2013

Astana, Give Me an "A!"

I was rather fond of the existing Expo 2017 bid logo, but apparently there are plans to use a different logo for the event itself. They've narrowed down the designs to seven.

My personal favorite is the fifth one, a stylized "A." I think it's unique, addresses the theme in a broad way and feels appropriate for Kazakhstan and Central Asia in general.

The first one, to me, is a little too "on the nose" for an energy theme and seems to limit the theme to a narrower definition of "energy."

The second and fourth ones are pleasant, but I could see both used for lots of uses. They seems very generic. Is it a world's fair? A software company? A shipping company?

The third one is just too obvious and relies too much on an overdone typographic trick.

The sixth one is a bit too simple for my tastes... and also looks very much like Aichi, Japan's Expo 2005 logo.

The seventh one is nice, too, but again, I think it seems to narrow the theme too much a specific definition of "energy." It would make an excellent solar power company logo, however.

You can vote here:

02 July 2013

“Where’s the Fair?” Reminds Us What We’ve Lost in Recent Decades

In 1983, when I was sixteen years old, I would try to seek out everything I could about world’s fairs and their history. I’d gone to the 1982 World’s Fair in Knoxville the previous year. I knew it was, in the grand scheme of things, a smallish version of the medium, but I’d gotten a taste and I wanted more.

I imagined how the medium could be made better… and saw examples or when it really reached its full potential… like in 1939 in New York, 1958 in Brussels, 1967 in Montreal, or 1970 in Osaka. I longed to see a full-fledged expo, and be a part of one.

As I was poring over my worn copy of the 1982 World’s Fair Guidebook at that age, I ran across two items that would keep me connected to world’s fairs throughout my life: an ad for Alfred Heller’s (now defunct) World’s Fair magazine and a feature showing two poster images that were available for purchase. I immediately ordered both.

Designed by New York-based designer Leonard Levitan, one poster featured a montage of world’s fair landmarks from 1851 to 1982. The other had souvenirs from expos of the same time period. I guess you could say I was a weird kid because I had them tacked up on my bedroom wall throughout high school and on my dorm room wall in college. Thirty years later, they’re in nice frames and still on my wall.

Why do I mention these posters? Well, to many Americans, this is perhaps how they see World’s Fairs. They might as well have an epitaph that says “1851 – 1982” on them.

Filmmaker Jerry Ford was one of those Americans who assumed expos were a think of the past until he chanced upon a collection of old world’s fair View-Masters. That experience spurred the creation of a documentary that debuted this past month at the Cape Fear Film Festival.

In the documentary, he goes step-by-step talking about the different issues involved: Why we don’t have world’s fair in the United States anymore, why we sometimes don’t have a pavilion at foreign world’s fairs, and why the ones we have created in recent decades have been rushed, mostly uninspired, and clouded by an opaque process. What does this say about the United States as a country?

The filmmakers are currently looking for distribution. A trailer for the film can be found at: WheresTheFair.com and their Facebook page is at https://www.facebook.com/WheresTheFair.

For those interested, I also wrote a bit more about the film on the BIE's web site.

17 June 2013

Sendak's Childhood Visit to the 1939-1940 New York World's Fair

At the Walt Disney Family Museum, we currently have an exhibit about author and illustrator Maurice Sendak. I thought this timeline in the exhibit was a good demonstration of power of world's fairs on younger visitors. I'm going to see what else I can find about his childhood visit to the 1939-1940 New York World's Fair, but it was clearly important enough for the exhibit planners to include it in his timeline.

10 June 2013

@ExpoMuseum Twitter: Monday, June 10, 2013

@UrsoChappell's first blog entry on the official BIE web site is now up. He talks about world's fairs as experiments. http://t.co/NOEB9Z0vW3

The Henry Ford acquires 1964 Eames-designed IBM pavilion kiosk from New York World's Fair http://t.co/ypqtWTiUyr

15 May 2013

@ExpoMuseum Twitter: Wednesday, May 15, 2013

UK Foreign Secretary announced that the UK supports Dubai's bid for Expo 2020. http://t.co/GhBusczv9R

Video (in Italian) about Expo 2015's construction. Apparently, there have been some problems. http://t.co/TfoSFP6LCO

08 May 2013

@ExpoMuseum Twitter: Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Chicagoans: Celebrate the 120th anniversary of the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition (world's fair) on Monday: http://t.co/NlAoUF6CJl

07 May 2013

@ExpoMuseum Twitter: Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Next year marks the 50th anniversary of the 1964-1965 New York World's Fair and we have the shirts to celebrate: http://t.co/CcAeCd28Tq

The design of the Italian Pavilion at the next world's fair, Expo 2015, has been unveiled. http://t.co/u3XGUGcjGA

18 April 2013

07 March 2013

@ExpoMuseum Twitter: Thursday, March 07, 2013

From Brussels' Expo '58: America, the Great Colossal Collage: Saul Steinberg’s Forgotten Masterpiece http://t.co/vAUlnnIHxQ via @ARTnewsmag

01 March 2013

@ExpoMuseum Twitter: Friday, March 01, 2013

World's Fair T-shirts and Hoodies - We have quite a few designs available now…. mostly commemorating the... http://t.co/iYT074cETP

28 February 2013

@ExpoMuseum Twitter: Thursday, February 28, 2013

Many people forget that New York has held THREE world's fairs: 1853, 1939-1940, and 1964-1965. http://t.co/UfWYQmK1Q3

22 February 2013

@ExpoMuseum Twitter: Friday, February 22, 2013

Photo: 2013 marks the 25th anniversary of Brisbane, Australia’s Expo ‘88.... http://t.co/17pzCzfQC2

Photo: The 50th anniversary of the 1964-1965 New York World’s Fair is coming up soon!... http://t.co/8M0VYHufmu

09 February 2013

@ExpoMuseum Twitter: Saturday, February 09, 2013

One of http://t.co/2551WYLv's latest acquisitions: a 1933-1934 Chicago pocket watch featuring Mickey Mouse: http://t.co/PcQDGO3D

Interesting conversation on http://t.co/okHrzLai: What (USA) city would best host a world's fair?: http://t.co/kgDeqV3I

04 February 2013

@ExpoMuseum Twitter: Monday, February 04, 2013

Proposed 2014 New York World's Fair - It's great to see folks in New York talking about hosting another world… http://t.co/1h9mbbOf

Good to see folks in NY talking about having a world's fair, but 2014 would be too soon: http://t.co/vfZdKdLG

A New York World's Fair in 2014?

It's interesting to see a mayoral candidate in New York talking about that city hosting a world's fair again, but 2014 is WAY too soon, but it would be great to see another city interested in 2022 or 2025.


Typically, in articles like these, comments run along typical lines. There are usually two points people try to make:

1. World's fairs don't happen anymore (or "They still have world's fairs?")

2. We don't need world's fairs anymore because we know all about other countries.

In working out my usual "talking points" about why we need world's fairs, it occurs to me that those two sentiments negate each other. Clearly, Americans don't REALLY know what's going on in the rest of the world, at least not in countries that we aren't at war with.

30 January 2013

@ExpoMuseum Twitter: Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Bill Gates makes some interesting parallels between Seattle's 1962 World's Fair and the Dubai Bid for 2020: http://t.co/7XhUCNMG

After working on the new http://t.co/xm40HSMC site this past week, I thought it made sense to finally update my... http://t.co/tWo9pa0f

29 January 2013

@ExpoMuseum Twitter: Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Minnesota World's Fair Site Launch - Is it too early to be talking about 2022? Well, it's closer than you thi… http://t.co/A5DwVceV

expositionframes: Air Canada Pavilion, Expo 67 http://t.co/gpkHTyW4

Is it too early to be talking about 2022? Well, it's closer than you think. Bids for Expo 2022 (or 2023) will... http://t.co/63HOh28N

24 January 2013

@ExpoMuseum Twitter: Thursday, January 24, 2013

Key Area, originally built for 1962 Century 21 Exposition (world's fair) in Seattle, might become an historic landmark: http://t.co/7ODpw0D6

12 January 2013

@ExpoMuseum Twitter: Saturday, January 12, 2013

We've updated and increased the offerings in our online shop. We'd love to hear feedback. http://t.co/mfUPCsYL

We've updated and increased the offerings in our online shop. We'd love to hear feedback. http:/www.ExpoMuseum.com/shop/

I've updated and increased the offerings in the http://t.co/2551WYLv Shop. I'd love to hear suggestions for ways to... http://t.co/6vRj3gYb

09 January 2013

@ExpoMuseum Twitter: Wednesday, January 09, 2013

With 2013 being the 25th anniversary of Expo '88, it seemed appropriate to update the 1988 Brisbane page on... http://t.co/A2sjCSL5

Just in time for the 25th anniversary of Brisbane's Expo 88 this year... http://t.co/STp8rOBn

Just in time for the 25th anniversary this year... http://t.co/u3zGgh48

Just in time for the 25th anniversary this year... http://t.co/xetbSbgf

08 January 2013

@ExpoMuseum Twitter: Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Cathy Maloney will be in San Francisco speaking about gardens at world's fairs on 20 June 2013. http://t.co/Pexo8GsI

Cathy Maloney will be in San Francisco speaking about gardens at world's fairs. As it happens, she'll be doing it... http://t.co/c2Dr521t

07 January 2013

05 January 2013

@ExpoMuseum Twitter: Saturday, January 05, 2013

Astana, Kazakhstan's booth for its successful bid to host Expo 2017, the 2nd energy-themed world's fair in history... http://t.co/kSrjHHKq

Here's a short video shot in Paris during the general assembly of the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE).... http://t.co/1kJTf0sT