SAHARA Highlights: Fairs and Expos

by Jacqueline Spafford and Mark Hinchman, SAHARA Co-Editors | Jul 08, 2021

Fairs and Expositions is an important sub-collection theme in SAHARA. These events represent national and local pride, high ideals, and promote innovations in science and industry. They have been an opportunity for visitors to learn about other people and cultures, albeit it in a very idealistic and controlled way. SAH members have attended and recorded recent international fairs, such as Expo 2010 in Shanghai, and digitized their analogue images from the iconic Expo ’67 and New York World’s Fair, as well as local state fairgrounds. Most of the structures from these limited-time events are long-gone, while others were designed to have a post-Fair life, such as the Pacific Science Center and Museu de Art Popular. Thank you to all SAHARA contributors, as always, for enriching the collection with your important documentation.

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Man in the Community pavilion with crowd outside
Arthur Erickson, the Man in the Community pavilion, Expo ’67, Montreal, Quebec, 1967.  Expo ’67 was a Category One World’s Fair, focused on the theme Man and His World, and was considered the most successful of the 20th century, with 62 participating nations and single-day attendance records. Photograph by William Kessler, 1967.


U.S.S.R. pavilion with the United States pavilion, Buckminster Fuller’s geodesic dome in background.
Mikhail Posokhin, the U.S.S.R. pavilion, Expo ’67, Montreal, Quebec, 1967. The United States pavilion, Buckminster Fuller’s geodesic dome, can be seen in the background. The U.S.S.R. pavilion was the most-visited of Expo ’67. Photograph by William Kessler, 1967.


 aerial view with the New Jersey pavilion, the Unisphere, and United States pavilion
Aerial view of the 1964 New York World’s Fair, Flushing Meadows, NY. The view includes the New Jersey pavilion, the Unisphere, and the United States pavilion. The Fair’s theme was Peace Through Understanding. Photograph by Richard Longstreth, 1964.


Radio Corporation of American pavilion
The Radio Corporation of American pavilion, 1964 New York World’s Fair, Flushing Meadows, NY, 1964. Photograph by Richard Longstreth, 1964.


black and white photo of Manufacturing and Liberal Arts Building
George Browne Post, Manufacturing and Liberal Arts Building, World’s Columbian Exposition, Chicago, Illinois, 1893. Photo from a souvenir album, contributed by Dell Upton.


Vietnam pavilion at Expo 2010
Vietnam pavilion, Expo 2010, Shanghai, China, 2010. The Shanghai World’s Fair, with the theme Better City – Better Life, set new records for attendance. Photograph by Lisa D. Schrenk, 2010.


United Kingdom pavilion at Expo 2010
Thomas Heatherwick, the United Kingdom pavilion, Expo 2010, Shanghai, China, 2010. Nicknamed “the Dandelion,” the building was constructed with 60,000 translucent and flexible acrylic rods. Photograph by Lisa D. Schrenk, 2010.


Museu de Arte Popular
Veloso Reis and João Simões, Museu de Arte Popular, Lisboa, Portugal, 1940. Built for the Portuguese World Exhibition (Exposição do Mundo Português) as the Pavilion of Popular Life, 1940. Photograph by Dell Upton, 2018.


Pacific Science Center in Seattle
Minoru Yamasaki, Pacific Science Center, Seattle, Washington, 1962. Originally built as the United States Science pavilion for the 1962 World’s Fair, it stands on the site now named Seattle Center. Photograph by John Stec, 1979.


Parthenon in Nashville
William Crawford Smith, the Parthenon, Nashville, Tennessee, 1896; 1925. Built with plaster and wood for the 1897 Tennessee Centenary Exposition, the to-scale building was intended to be temporary but was so popular it was recreated in concrete 1920–31. Photograph by Sun-Young Park.


Dorton Arena
Matthew Nowicki and William Henley Dietrick, Dorton Arena, North Carolina Fairgrounds, Raleigh, NC, 1950–52. Photograph by Dell Upton, 1986.

Founded in 1940, the Society of Architectural Historians is an international nonprofit membership organization that promotes the study, interpretation and conservation of architecture, design, landscapes and urbanism worldwide. SAH serves a network of local, national and international institutions and individuals who, by profession or interest, focus on the built environment and its role in shaping contemporary life. SAH promotes meaningful public engagement with the history of the built environment through advocacy efforts, print and online publications, and local, national and international programs.

SAH thanks The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation
for its operating support.
Society of Architectural Historians
1365 N. Astor Street
Chicago, Illinois 60610