EXPOs and world exhibitions

1851 - 2025

All EXPOs at a glance

EXPOs and world exhibitions are mega events, where the nations of the world present themselves to a large audience and, in the best case, present future solutions to the most pressing challenges facing our planet.

In so-called pavilions, each country has the opportunity to show its innovations on one or more thematic complexes.

Among other things, this involves the littering of the oceans, global warming or new ways of generating or storing energy.

World exhibitions should also always be a tribute to the human inventive spirit.

They are an international forum for ideas, projects and inventions. The spirit of the times is reflected in the motto.

The first World's Fair was held in London in 1851

EXPOs and world exhibitions
In 1851 the history of EXPOs and World's Fairs began in London

The first world exhibition took place in London in 1851 under the name "Great Exhibition". Even then, it was a real crowd puller. Six million visitors came.
Among them such famous personalities as Charles Darwin or Charles Dickens.

EXPOs and world exhibitions today are also shows

But EXPOs and World's Fairs are also great shows with an extraordinary entertainment program and playful approaches to communicate difficult topics.

In the pavilions you will find many exhibits with which you can interact.

EXPO 2020 Dubai even advertises with the slogan "The World's Greatest Show".

Universal vs. International EXPOs

At "Universal" EXPOs and World's Fairs, the themes are somewhat broader. These take place every five years.

In Shanghai, life in megametropolises and cities worldwide was addressed under the motto "Better City, Better Life".

EXPO 2020 Dubai

EXPO 2020 Dubai and all about world expositions

At the current EXPO 2020 in Dubai, the theme complex "Connecting Minds, Creating the Future" and the sub-themes "Sustainability, Mobility and Opportunities" are all about cooperation in a global world.
In addition to the innovations in the nation pavilions, joint solutions for the individual theme areas will also be presented in different theme weeks.

International EXPOs

In between the "big", universal EXPOs, "International World Expos" are held every two to three years, dedicated to a more specific focus.

In Astana, the motto at EXPO 2017 was "Future Energy," and in Yeosu in 2012, "The Living Ocean and Coast."

History of the world exhibitions

EXPOs and world exhibitions have a long history.
The first World's Fair was held in London in 1851.

This was followed by stations in other European countries and important metropolises.

Among the most famous World's Fairs and their legacies are the World's Fairs in Paris in the early years with the construction of the Eiffel Tower.

Barcelona also benefits to this day from parks and facilities that served as exhibition grounds at the time.

From Europe to the USA and on to Asia

In the 20th century, World's Fairs enjoyed great popularity, especially in the USA.

And later the attraction of the EXPOs moved further east and broke new (visitor) records there.

The first world exhibition in Japan was held in Osaka. It was also the first ever on the Asian continent.

With approximately 64 million visitors, it held the attendance record until 2010.

The Shanghai EXPO topped this figure in 2010, with a total of 73 million people visiting the first World Expo in the Middle Kingdom.

EXPO 2020 Dubai is the first EXPO in the Middle East

EXPO 2020 Dubai, which will not take place until 2021 to 2022 due to the pandemic, will be the first world exhibition in the Middle East and thus in the Arab and African region after 170 years of history.

Overview of the world exhibitions:

Most famous inventions, novelties, architecture and innovations of the EXPOs

Among the most famous inventions, buildings and innovations presented so far at world exhibitions are:

World novelties and famous buildings shown at EXPOs and world exhibitions are:

  • London 1851 - the Crystal Palace (burned down in 1936)
  • New York 1853 - the New York Crystal Palace (building burned down in 1858) McCormick reaper, OTIS freight elevator
  • Paris 1855 - Concrete boat, espresso machine, matches
  • London 1862 - Sewing machine, Lenoir gas engine (award)
  • Paris 1867 - Ice cream soda, suction wind harmonium, flying piston engine, Michaux velocipede.
  • Vienna 1873 - Rotunda (burned down in 1937)
  • Philadelphia 1876 - Phone, Heinz Ketchup
  • Paris 1878 - Icebox and the precursor of the record player
  • Amsterdam 1883 - Lipstick
  • Paris 1889 - the Eiffel Tower and the Gallery of the Machines
  • Chicago 1893 - Zipper, Ferris Wheel, Electric Chair, Dishwasher
  • Milan 1894 - first aerial tramway for passenger transport
  • Paris 1900 - Grand Palais, Petit Palais, Gare d'Orsay, Pont Alexandre III, metro, predecessor of escalator, Crimean champagne, trolley bus, Lohner-Porsche (hybrid car), brilliantine, Krasnoyarsk railroad bridge
  • Louisiana Purchase Exposition, St. Louis 1904
    Organ of the Wanamaker Department Store (Philadelphia)
    Fun fact: The 1904 Summer Olympics were held here at the same time, to give the Summer Games some exposure through the glamour of the World's Fair.
  • Milan 1906 - Marina pavilion
  • Seattle 1909 - Stamp machine
  • San Francisco 1915 - the Tower of Jewels and the Palace of Fine Arts
  • Paris 1925 - Hôtel d'un Collectionneur
  • Philadelphia 1926 - Sound film and electric typewriter
  • Barcelona 1929 - German pavilion
  • Paris 1937 - Palais de Chaillot
  • Brussels 1958 - Atomium
  • Seattle 1962 - Space Needle
  • Montreal 1967 - Atomic clock
  • Osaka 1970 - First EXPOs and World's Fairs in Asia. Until 2010, Osaka also held the record for visitors with 64 million people.
  • Knoxville 1982 - Sunsphere, Rubik's Cube
  • Hanover EXPO 2000 - The largest cantilevered supported wooden roof in the world is considered a landmark of Expo 2000
  • Shanghai EXPO 2010 - Largest World Expo ever, Chinese Pavilion "Oriental Crown".
  • Milan EXPO 2015 - Charter of Milan / Tree of Life
  • Dubai EXPO 2020 - First World's Fair in the Middle East and Arab World.
    Building: UAE Pavilion, Al Wasl Dome
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