Expo 58

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EXPO Brussels 1958
Expo58 building Philips.jpg
Overview
BIE-class Universal exposition
Category First category General Exposition
Name Expo 58
Area 2 square kilometres (490 acres)
Visitors 41,454,412
Participant(s)
Countries 44
Location
Country Belgium
City Brussels
Venue Heysel
Coordinates 50°53′50″N 4°20′21″E / 50.89722°N 4.33917°E / 50.89722; 4.33917
Timeline
Bidding May 7, 1948 (1948-05-07)
Awarded November 1953
Opening April 17, 1958 (1958-04-17)
Closure October 19, 1958 (1958-10-19)
Universal editions
Previous Exposition internationale du bicentenaire de Port-au-Prince in Port-au-Prince
Next Century 21 Exposition in Seattle
Specialized Expositions
Previous Interbau in Berlin
Next Expo 61 in Turin

Expo 58, also known as the Brussels World’s Fair (Dutch: Brusselse Wereldtentoonstelling, French: Exposition Universelle et Internationale de Bruxelles), was held from 17 April to 19 October 1958.[1] It was the first major World's Fair after World War II.

Background[edit]

Nearly 15,000 workers spent three years building the 2 square kilometres (490 acres) 2 km² site, found on the Heysel plateau, 7 kilometres (4.3 mi) northwest of central Brussels, Belgium. Many of the buildings were re-used from the Brussels International Exposition (1935), which had been held on the same site.[2]

Every 25 years starting in 1855, Belgium had staged large national events to celebrate its national independence following the Belgian Revolution of 1830. However, the Belgian government under prime minister Achille Van Acker decided to forego celebrations in 1955 to have additional funding for the 1958 Expo.[3]

Expo 58 was the 11th World's Fair hosted by Belgium, and the fifth in Brussels, following the fairs in 1888, 1897, 1910 and 1935. After Expo 58, Belgium has so far not arranged any more world fairs.

Exhibition[edit]

A small replica of the Atomium
Expo 58 visitors crossing a pedestrian bridge over a three-dimensional scale map of the Belgian landscape, on display near its pavilion (July 1958).

The site is best known for the Atomium, a giant model of a unit cell of an iron crystal (each sphere representing an atom). More than 41 million visitors visited the site,[4] which was opened with a call for world peace and social and economic progress, issued by King Baudouin I.

The Centenary Palace in Heysel Park, a centrepiece at the Expo (viewed from the Atomium).

Notable exhibitions include the Philips Pavilion, where "Poème électronique", commissioned specifically for the location, was played back from 425 loudspeakers, placed at specific points as designed by Iannis Xenakis, and Le Corbusier.[citation needed]

Another exhibition was the Congolese village that was on display.[5]

National pavilions[edit]

A scene near the Thailand pavilion (July 1958).
The German pavilion

Austria[edit]

The Austrian pavilion was designed by Karl Schwanzer in modernist style. It was later transferred to Vienna to host the museum of the 20th century. In 2011 it was reopened under the new name 21er Haus. It included a model Austrian Kindergarten, which doubled as a day care facility for the employees, the Vienna Philharmonic playing behind glass, and a model nuclear fusion reactor that fired every 5 minutes.

Czechoslovakia[edit]

The exposition "One Day in Czechoslovakia" was designed by Jindřich Santar who cooperated with artists Jiří Trnka, Antonín Kybal, Stanislav Libenský and Jan Kotík. Architects of the simple, but modern and graceful construction were František Cubr, Josef Hrubý and Zdeněk Pokorný. The team's artistic freedom, so rare in the hard-line communist regime of the 1950s, was ensured by the government committee for exhibitions chairman František Kahuda. He supported the famous Laterna Magika show, as well as Josef Svoboda's technically unique Polyekran. The Czechoslovak pavilion was visited by 6 million people and was officially awarded the best pavilion of the Expo 58.[6]

Mexico[edit]

This was designed by the architect Pedro Ramírez Vázquez. It was awarded the exposition's star of gold.

Paris[edit]

The city of Paris had its own pavilion, separate from the French one.

United Kingdom[edit]

This was produced by the designer James Gardner, architect Howard Lobb & engineer Felix Samuely. The on-site British architect was Michael Blower, Brussels born and bilingual.[7] This pavilion was the only one with a mandatory queue.[citation needed] In fact, the entire exhibit was one long queue.[citation needed]

USA[edit]

The US pavilion was quite spacious and included a fashion show with models walking down a large spiral staircase, an electronic computer that demonstrated a knowledge of history, and a color television studio behind glass.

The USSR[edit]

The Soviet pavilion was a large impressive building which they folded up and took back to Russia when Expo 58 ended. They had a facsimile of Sputnik which mysteriously disappeared, and they accused the US of stealing it. They had a bookstore selling science and technology books in English and other languages published by the Moscow Press.

The Federal Republic of Germany[edit]

The West German pavillon was built by the architects Egon Eiermann and Sep Ruf. The world press called it the most beautiful pavillon of the exhibition.

Yugoslavia[edit]

The pavilion of Yugoslavia was designed by the architect Vjenceslav Richter, who originally proposed to suspend the whole structure from a giant cable-stayed mast. When that proved too difficult, Richter devised a tension column consisting of six steel arches supported by a pre-stressed cable, which stood in front of the pavilion as a visual marker and symbolized Yugoslavia's six constituent republics. Filled with modernist art, the pavilion was praised for its elegance and simplicity and was awarded a Gold Medal. After the end of Expo 58, it was sold and reconstructed as a high school in the Belgian municipality of Wevelgem, where it still stands.

Gallery[edit]

Mozart's Requiem incident[edit]

Mozart's manuscript, with missing corner.

The autograph of Mozart's Requiem was placed on display. At some point, someone was able to gain access to the manuscript, tearing off the bottom right-hand corner of the second to last page (folio 99r/45r), containing the words "Quam olim d: C:". As of 2012 the perpetrator has not been identified and the fragment has not been recovered.[8]

If the most common authorship theory is true,[citation needed] then "Quam olim d: C:" might very well be the last words Mozart wrote before he died. It is probable that whoever stole the fragment believed that to be the case.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "When the world was in Brussels". Flanders Today. April 16, 2008. 
  2. ^ Video: Brussels World's Fair, 1958/03/17 (1958). Universal Newsreel. 1958. Retrieved February 21, 2012. 
  3. ^ Expo 58, The Royal Belgian Film Archive, Revised Edition, 2008, p. 78 (booklet accompanying DVD edition of footage from the exhibition)
  4. ^ Weltausstellungen (in German). Stuttgart/Zürich: Belser Verlag. 1998. p. 201. ISBN 3-7630-2358-5. 
  5. ^ "Deep Racism: The Forgotten History Of Human Zoos". PopularResistance.Org. 2014-02-18. Retrieved 2014-03-24. 
  6. ^ MF DNES, Expo 2010, Mimořádná příloha o světové výstavě v Šanghaji, 3.5.2010.
  7. ^ See chapter by Jonathan Woodham - Caught between Many Worlds: the British Site at Expo ‘58’(see bibliography)
  8. ^ Facsimile of the manuscript's last page, showing the missing corner from Austrian National Library

Bibliography[edit]

  • The Architecture of Expo 58 by Rika Devos & Mil De Kooning (eds). Dexia/Mercatorfonds, 2006 (ISBN 0-0-0).

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 50°53′48″N 4°20′38″E / 50.89667°N 4.34389°E / 50.89667; 4.34389