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The Darker Side of Exposition
An exploration into the unseen side of world fairs.
“Expositions are the timekeepers of progress. They record the world’s advancement. They stimulate energy, enterprise, and intellect of the people and quicken human genius. They go into the home. They broaden and brighten the life of the people. They open mighty storehouses of information for the student. Every exposition, great or small, has helped this onward step.”
President William Mckinley 1901
Human Zoo’s or enhancement of knowledge. 4
Expo’s and Racism 5
Expositions and money. 7
Sustainability of Expositions 9
Works Cited 13
Exposition, as defined by the Oxford English Dictionary, is ‘A large public exhibition of art or trade goods’ (Dictionaries, 2014). Since their birth in 1851, Expositions have always been at the forefront of design and innovation, showing the latest and greatest ideas to the rest of the world as well as breaking architectural boundaries. They reflect the contemporary events and attitudes of society at the given time. Expositions become a microcosm of society bringing the world together for one big show and a chance to top each other at who is the best. President William Mckinley gives a very positive view of exposition through his quote, expressing how much Expos have done for industry and world relations. Prince Albert, whose idea it was to initially hold a world exposition, his aim for the exhibition was ‘a display of international goodwill, as a peaceful pageant of national identities’ (Kemper, 2000) However there was a very dark side to the world fairs amongst the fairground rides and pleasure gardens a darker side lurked. Racism, imperialism, a lack of sustainability and ignorance towards the environment all make one query whether President Mckinley was looking at expositions through rose tinted glasses or was his view unsullied by the success of expositions in their infancy.
Human Zoo’s or enhancement of knowledge.
The Barcelona exhibition of 1929 offered people a chance to see all of Spain in one place by creating the Poble Espanyol (The Spanish Village). It has approximately 600 buildings, 117 of which could be visited, the village blended together the different vernaculars of Spain to give an overall feeling of the countries architecture. (Espanyol, 2014) This gave visitors to the exhibition an amazing opportunity, in a time when travel was limited and not something every person got the chance to do, it gave the opportunity for the world to come to you. However the architecture was not the only thing bought to exhibition from afar, human ‘specimens’ were bought from far away colonies and used as displays. So were expos really about seeing the world for six pence? Or were they really human zoos, a chance for the middle class to get a thrill and see something out of the ordinary.
At the 1904 Louisiana Purchase...