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. It was the first major World's Fair after World War II.
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.
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.
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.
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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 42 million visitors visited the site, which was opened with a call for world peace and social and economic progress, issued by King Baudouin I.
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.
National pavilions 
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.
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 polyecran. The Czechoslovak pavilion was visited by 6 million people and was officially awarded the best pavilion of the Expo 58. It was certainly the most beautiful.
This was designed by the architect Pedro Ramírez Vázquez. It was awarded the exposition's star of gold.
The city of Paris had its own pavilion, separate from the French one.
United Kingdom 
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. This pavilion was the only one with a mandatory queue. In fact, the entire exhibit was one long queue.
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 
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 
Mozart's Requiem incident 
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[update] the perpetrator has not been identified and the fragment has not been recovered.
If the most common authorship theory is true, 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 
- The 50th anniversary of Expo 58 was selected as the main motif of a high-value collectors' coin: the Belgian 100 euro 50th Anniversary of the International Expo in Belgium commemorative coin, minted in 2008. In the obverse, the logo of the event is depicted together with the number 50, representing its 50th anniversary.
- Brussels International (1897)
- Brussels International (1910)
- Brussels International Exposition (1935)
- "When the world was in Brussels". Flanders Today. April 16, 2008.
- Video: Brussels World's Fair, 1958/03/17 (1958). Universal Newsreel. 1958. Retrieved February 21, 2012.
- Expo 58, The Royal Belgian Film Archive, Revised Edition, 2008, p. 78 (booklet accompanying DVD edition of footage from the exhibition)
- MF DNES, Expo 2010, Mimořádná příloha o světové výstavě v Šanghaji, 3.5.2010.
- See chapter by Jonathan Woodham - Caught between Many Worlds: the British Site at Expo ‘58’(see bibliography)
- Facsimile of the manuscript's last page, showing the missing corner from Austrian National Library
- The Architecture of Expo 58 by Rika Devos & Mil De Kooning (eds). Dexia/Mercatorfonds, 2006 (ISBN 0-0-0).
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Expo 1958|
- Expo '58 and a Flash-based interactive map from the Atomium website
- Brussels World's Fair approaches completion, a March 17, 1958 Universal newsreel clip from the Internet Archive
- brussels-expo58.be - Celebrating 50 years of Expo 58 in 2008