World's Fair is the generic name for various large expositions held since the mid 19th century. The official sanctioning body is the Bureau International des Expositions or BIE.
Of the BIE approved fairs, there are universal, and international or specialized, lasting from 3 to 6 months in duration. In addition, countries can hold their own 'fair', 'exposition', 'exhibition', without BIE endorsement.
Universal Expositions encompass universal themes that affect the full gamut of human experience, usually at a unique period of time for mankind. These Universal Expos usually have themes based on which pavilions are made to represent the country's opinion on that theme. The theme for the Expo at Lisbon (1998) was "water" and the theme for the 2005 Expo being held in Japan is "nature's wisdom". Universal expositions are usually held less frequently than specialized or international expositions because they are more expensive. To distinguish them from lesser fairs, they require total design of pavilion buildings from the ground up. As a result, nations compete for the most outstanding or memorable structure - recent examples include Japan, France, Morocco & Spain at Expo '92. Recent Universal Expositions include Brussels Expo '58, Seattle Expo '62, known as the Century 21 Exposition, Montreal Expo '67, San Antonio HemisFair '68, Osaka Expo '70, Brisbane Expo '88, Seville Expo '92, Lisbon Expo '98, and Hanover, Germany Expo 2000. The Expo 2005 is being held at Aichi Prefecture, Japan. Sometimes pre-fabricated structures are also used to minimize costs for developing countries or for countries from a geographical block to share space (i.e. Plaza of the Americas at Seville '92).
BIE has moved to sanction expos only every 5 years, starting with the 21st century; with the 1980s and 1990s overflowing with expos back to back, some see this as a means to cut down potential expenditure by participating nations. Indeed, quite remarkably, it is believed Australia chose not to participate in Expo '98 for this reason alone, perhaps because Seville was too close and too near in time to justify another representation.
The rule may apply to all expos, or it may end up that Universal expositions will be restricted to every 5 years or so, with International / Specialized expositions in the in-between years for countries wishing to celebrate a special event.
International or Specialized expositions
International expositions are usually united by a common theme - such as Transportation (Vancouver Expo '86) or 'Leisure in the Age of Technology' (Brisbane Expo '88). Such themes are narrower than the worldwide scope of Universal expositions.
Specialized expositions have a narrow theme, such as the International Garden Expositions, held in Osaka 1990 and Kunming, China, 1999.
Specialized and international expositions are usually smaller in scale and cheaper to run for the host committee and participating nations because the architectural fees are lower and they only have to rent the space from the host committee, usually with the pre-fabricated structure already completed. Some say this leads to better creative content as more money can be spent in this area.
Specialized and international are similar in that the host organization provides the rental space to participating countries, as well as the building itself, which is usually pre-fabricated. Countries then have the option of 'adding' their own colours, design etc. to the outside of the pre-fabricated structure and filling in the inside with their own content. One example of this is China, which invariably has chosen to add a Chinese archway in the front of their pre-fabricated pavilions to symbolize their nation (Expo '88, Expo '92, Expo '93).
After the Fair
The majority of the structures are temporary, dismantled at the end of the expo. A major exception is the Eiffel Tower, built for Paris' Exposition Universelle (1889). The Crystal Palace, from the first World's Fair in 1851, chosen because it could be recycled to recoup losses, was such a success that it was moved and intended to be permanent, only to be destroyed by a fire (of its contents) in 1936. Other outstanding exceptions are the remains of Expo '29 in Seville, Spain where the 'Plaza de España' forms part of a large park and forecourt, and many of the pavilions have become offices for Consulate-Generals. In Brussels, the Atomium still stands at the site of the 1958 exposition. The Space Needle in Seattle was the symbol of the 1962 World's Fair, and the US pavilion from that fair became the Pacific Science Center. San Antonio kept intact the Tower of the Americas, the Institue of Texan Cultures and the Convention Center from HemisFair '68. Among the structures still standing from Expo '67 in Montreal are Moshe Safdie's Habitat 67, Buckminster Fuller's American pavilion (now the Biosphère), and the French pavilion (now the Casino de Montréal). The Sunsphere remains extant from the 1982 World's Fair in Knoxville. The Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago is housed in the last remaining building of the 1893 World Columbian Exposition, which had been the Palace of Fine Arts. The intent was to make all Columbian structures permanent, but most of the structures burned, possibly the result of arson during the Pullman Strike. The World Heritage-listed Royal Exhibition Building in Melbourne was constructed for the 1880 Melbourne International Exhibition, and is another example.
Some World's Fair sites become parks incorporating some of the expo elements, such as:
Some pavilions have been moved overseas intact; the USSR Pavilion from Expo '67 is now in Moscow.
Many exhibitions and rides created by Walt Disney and his WED Enterprises company for the 1964 New York World's Fair (which was held over into 1965) were moved to the world-famous Disneyland after the closing of the Fair. Many of the rides still operating today.
The Belgium Pavillion from the 1964 New York World's Fair was relocated to Virginia Union University in Richmond, Virginia.