Is an international expo always truly international?
That is the question.
The main aim of an international expo, also known as an international exhibition, universal exhibition or world’s fair, is to present, unveil, display, feature, and showcase the achievements, creations, and other inventions of each country in attendance. It is open to the public and, since 1928, has been very formally regulated by the very serious BIE (Bureau International des Expositions).
Historically speaking, the very first of the genre is taken to be the Great Exhibition in London 1851. The inspiration for the event came to the writer Henry Cole in 1849 during a visit to the Great Exhibition of Products of French Industry, which had been held in Paris since 1798.
While the first of its name is duly classed as a universal exhibition, not all of them are. For example, the BIE recognizes the official status of national exhibition for certain horticultural exhibitions, under certain conditions :
“A1 horticultural exhibitions approved by the International Association of Horticultural Producers, provided that there is an interval of at least two years between such exhibitions in different countries and at least ten years between events held in the same country.”
In this way, the BIE classifies international expos into four categories, each of which is carefully regulated: World Expos (International Registered Exhibitions); Specialised Expos (International Recognized Exhibitions); Horticultural Expos; and the Triennale di Milano.
From the flamboyance of the Belgium medals to the British historical dimension via the American extravagance and even the precision of the engraving à la française: here is a hand-picked selection of 24 remarkable medals minted to mark the occasion of one or another other expo.
Picture above: "Electrical building — World Columbian Exposition, Chicago, Illinois" by Charles S. Graham (1892) (Public Domain)