Urso Chappell’s ExpoMuseum Blog: July 2013

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.