The History of World Expositions
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In November 1929, the president of the Chambers of Commerce Julian Durand proposed to the French Lower House that France hold an international exposition following in the footsteps of the 1925 "Exposition des Arts Décoratifs" which demonstrated France's superiority in all matters of taste and design. Durand's original proposal, which was restricted to arts and crafts, was expanded by the French Senate in February 1932 with the ambition of broadening the exposition scope to embrace all aspects of civilisation (science, language, arts and the associated industrial fields of endeavour). In addition to stimulating international intellectual cooperation, it was also hoped that this major project could counteract the repercussions on France of the global economic crisis. The Paris City Council broadened the project even further in June 1932 with the idea of organising an exposition dealing with the lives of workers and farmers.

The government finally amalgamated all three concepts and on 7 October 1932 reserved a date in 1937 at the Bureau Internationale des Expositions (BIE) for an International World Exposition concentrating on applied arts and modern industry.

Inspired by the ideas which had been developed at that time, the organisers planned to divide the World Exposition - the last French EXPO to date - into three sections: a thematic exposition on the intellectual world guided by the general theme, an international peace congress, and a wide-ranging agricultural exhibition. This was encapsulated in the official resolution passed by the French government on 16 January 1933 to hold the 1937 World Exposition in Paris. However, even though the main organising committee had already met in May 1933, the French government withdrew from the project in January 1935 because of financial difficulties. It ordered all of the committees to suspend their planning activities. Six months later, the French government and Paris city council reacted to the tremendous protest raised in influential circles by resuming the work and passing a bill on the financing of the World Exposition.

The former director of technology education Edmond Labbé was appointed Commissioner General, and the project was officially registered as a Category 2 Exposition by the BIE on 23 October 1934. This opened the way in December for the Foreign Ministry to officially invite all of the countries with diplomatic representatives in France to take part in the Exposition. Parliament passed a law laying down the programme, the classifications and the general rules, even though no detailed concept existed at the time. The planning was plagued by hasty decision making and improvisation. One of the consequences of this was the absence of a general site plan for integrating the pavilions. Bureaucratic delays and strikes by workers who demanded permanent post-exposition jobs forced the Commissioner General to threaten his resignation in early 1937. Following several postponements, the World Exposition finally opened on 25 May 1937, and even then, some of the pavilions were not finished until several months later.

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The Paris World Exposition 1937
The long journey to success
Year: 1937City: ParisCountry: France
Duration: 25th May - 25th November 1937



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