Expo '88

Expo '88

Expo '88, officially known as 'World Expo 88' was a World's Fair held in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia during a six month period between 30 April 1988 and 30 October 1988. The theme of the Expo was "Leisure in the Age of Technology", and the mascot for the Expo was an Australian platypus, named "Expo Oz". [ [http://www.foundationexpo88.org/aboutcontents.html Foundation Expo '88 About Expo] — Foundation Expo 88] .

The AU$625 million fair was the largest event of the 1988 Bicentennial celebrations of the British settlement of Australia. [cite web |url=http://www.foundationexpo88.org/aboutintro.html |title=About World Expo '88 |accessdate=2008-02-23 |format= |work= ]



The origins for a World Expo for Brisbane commenced soon after Australia Pavilion Expo '67, Expo '70 and Expo '74 architect James Maccormick was commissioned to do an urban renewal study for Kangaroo Point in the early 70s. It occurred to Maccormick that an Expo would be an ideal catalyst for such a redevelopment, and he later hosted meetings with prominent Queensland business persons and government representatives to such purpose [ [http://www.foundationexpo88.org/fexpo88maccormickinterview.pdf Foundation Expo 88 interview] ] . With the Australian Bicentenary looming in 1988, other Australian capitals sought means by which to celebrate the event, including hosting of a Universal Exposition and/or Olympic Games. Sydney and Melbourne both made representations to the Federal Government for matching dollar for dollar funding for a Universal Exposition in the 1988 bicentennial year, however, citing the costs of the new Parliament House in Canberra, also to be opened in the same year, these proposals were knocked back [ [http://www.foundationexpo88.org/originsofexpocarroll.pdf Origins of Expo] — Foundation Expo 88] .

Brisbane under Premier Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen then developed Maccomick's earlier proposal to host an International scale Exposition, however at no cost to the Australian taxpayer, a world's first 'free enterprise' World Exposition, which the Federal Government rubber stamped. This dovetailed nicely with the State Government of Queensland's long term ambitions to redevelop the southern bank of the Brisbane river, immediately opposite the central business district.

With federal representation, at the December 1983 BIE General Assembly, Brisbane won the right to hold the 1988 World Exposition, as a specialised international exposition. Immediately the Brisbane Exposition and South Bank Redevelopment Authority (BESBRA) was formed with Sir Llewellyn Edwards, State Deputy Premier, at the helm. Maccormick later was appointed as Joint Chief Architect of the Expo, under the architectural firm Bligh Maccormick 88.


The Expo occupied a mixed usage 40-hectare resumed parcel of land on the South Bank of the Brisbane River, opposite the city's CBD. For many years this area, mainly industrial, had been largely derelict. The creation of Expo, along with the, then, recent construction of the Queensland Cultural Centre, helped to revive the area. [cite web
title = History of South Bank site
publisher = South Bank Corporation
url = http://www.southbankcorporation.com.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/24006/History.pdf
format = PDF
accessdate = 2008-08-27

Around 100 works of sculpture were either commissioned, purchased or borrowed for the Expo at a cost of $25 million dollars. Large sun sails were erected over the Expo site to provide shade from the hot Queensland climate.cite web | title = Brisbane World Expo '88 publisher = New2Brisbane | date = 2007-04-10 | url = http://www.new2brisbane.com.au/Get_To_Know_Brisbane/The_History_of_Brisbane/Brisbane_World_Expo_88.html | accessdate = 2008-08-24 ] These became an icon of the Expo, becoming an element of the Expo's sun-sails logo. Two thousand kilometers of telecommunication wire were laid during construction of the site.

A $4.5AUD million 88-metre symbol tower for the Expo was constructed, called 'Night Companion', which featured a gold and copper dome black spire top, with a xenon laser beam eye which scanned the Brisbane horizons each Expo evening up to 60km away.

A monorail was constructed for Expo '88 to take visitors quickly around the Expo site. Costing AU$12 million, it consisted of 2 stations at either end of the site, 2.3 kilometres of track and 4 nine-carriage trains. The route included going through the Queensland Pavilion, across the Pacific Lagoon and beside the Brisbane River. The system was able to carry 44,000 passengers per day. Following Expo, part of the monorail joined the existing Sea World monorail system.

A ticket to the fair allowed entry to the World Expo Park amusement park at the same location. Although originally intended to be a permanent feature, the park remained open for only one year after Expo had closed. [cite web | title = World Expo Park | publisher = Rollercoaster.com.au & Total Thrills | date = 2007-05-21 | url = http://www.roller-coaster.com.au/park.php?pid=21 | accessdate = 2008-08-27 ]

The Fair

The exposition was opened by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on 30 April 1988 to much fanfare. The fair attracted more than 18 million visitors, including staff and VIPs, more than double the predicted 7.8 million, and was considered a turning point in the history of Brisbane, which had recently successfully hosted the XIIth Commonwealth Games in 1982.

The Commissioner General for Expo '88 was Sir Edward Williams. Sir Edward was also the Chairman for the also very successful XIIth Commonwealth Games.

The Chairman and Chief Executive for Expo '88 was former State Government Minister, Sir Llewellyn Edwards.


Despite late entrants into the Exposition due to domestic political measures, the Exposition attracted some 100 pavilions, from 52 governments, of which 36 were from international-level, and numerous corporate participants. Major western and European nations were represented such as the USA, USSR (last representation at a World Exposition), France, Federal Republic of Germany, Great Britain, Canada, Spain, Greece, Singapore, Thailand, Nepal, Pakistan, China, Japan, Korea, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea, amongst others.

State-level and multi-lateral organisations included the six Australian states, the United Nations, the European Union, the Vatican, three American states (Hawai'i, California and Alaska), one Japanese prefecture (sister state of Queensland, Saitama Prefecture), and one Japanese city (Brisbane's sister city Kobe City).

Corporate pavilions included IBM, Ford, Fujitsu, Queensland Newspapers, Australia Post, Cadbury Chocolate, Suncorp, and the Queensland Teachers Credit Union. NASA and Universal Studios hosted outdoor exhibits, with models of the space shuttle and apollo program, as well as the car KITT from the TV series Knight Rider.

The most expensive pavilion was Japan ($26AUD million), followed by the Queensland Pavilion ($20AUD million) and the Australia Pavilion ($18AUD million). The largest Pavilions were also Queensland, followed by Australia then Japan.

High Definition TV received its Australian premiere at the Japan Pavilion, and the text-based internet at the Swiss Pavilion.

The top 'five' Pavilions were considered to be Australia, with its special effects 'Dreamtime Theatre'; Queensland, with its popular people mover ride through Queensland of the present and the future; Japan with its Japan Pond and Garden and hi-tech displays; Switzerland, with its artificial snow ski slope and cable car ride; and Nepal, with its 3-level hand-crafted Nepal Peace Pagoda.


For the most part Pavilions were housed in pre-fabricated units constructed by the Expo Authority, with the exception of the Nepal Peace Pagoda, of Nepal, and aspects of the Kingdom of Thailand Pavilion, amongst others. The Australia Pavilion and Queensland Pavilion, side by side, were also custom-made, with the exterior of the Australia Pavilion notably in the shape and colours of Uluru (Ayer's Rock).


As well as the popular platypus mascot Expo Oz, designed by Disney's Imagineering Division, there were several popular themed initiatives that promoted the Expo, most notably the Expo's two interchangeable logos (as noted above), one an boomerang-styled '88' on a wire frame globe, and, another, the colourful sunsails logo, which superimposed aspects of the Expo's entertainment on a relief of one of the Expo's popular sunsails (designed by Ken Cato, of Cato Purnell Partners).

The logos were used extensively throughout the Expo site, as well as on all official letterheads and souvenirs, and a costume Expo Oz could be seen as part of the daily parades, shows, and other variety performances. Over 500 items of souvenir memorabilia were made using Expo Oz's image. Expo Oz also featured in extensive international tours in the lead-up to the Expo, to Europe, the USA and Japan.

The theme song of the Expo, 'Together We'll Show the World!', by Frank Millward and Carol Lloyd was also an important rallying point in promoting the Expo in the lead-up to and during phases of the fair, and captured a wonderful sense of the excitement of the Expo.

The colourful theme for the Australia Pavilion, which became synonymous with the hosting of the Expo with Australia as host nation, was designed by prominent Australian artist Ken Done, and featured huge playful colourful letters making up the word Australia in an Australia Pavilion Entrance set, and Exit set, with the entrance set a stack of nine, 3x3, some 2.1 metres high each, and the exit set, in a line of nine letters, some 5.6 metres high each. These letters became a very popular photo opportunity for the Expo, and the theme was also found on the brightly coloured Australia Pavilion uniforms also.


The $38million Entertainment program featured acts from all over Australia and all over the world at a variety of custom-made performance venues on the Expo site from the 10,000 seater spectacular open air River Stage (for National Day Events, Opening and Closing Ceremonies and large-scale events), the 850 seater Piazza for circus, marching band, acrobatics, magic and mime, and the smaller-scale Amphitheatre for National Day Ceremonies and Laser Shows. The River Stage was also the venue for the popular evening fireworks and large-scale laser show, set to music, each Expo evening at 10pm.

Big international and Australian names were a feature at the Expo. Perennial Australian favourites such as Little River Band, Mental as Anything, the Cockroaches, Joe Camilleri and the Black Sorrows, John Farnham, Julie Anthony, Simon Gallaher, and Jon English, were regular performers, joined with Julio Iglesias, John Denver, Donny Osmond, Cher, Phyllis Diller, and a wide variety of international theatre, opera and classical music at the adjoining (separate ticket admission) 'World Expo on Stage' program at the Queensland Performing Arts Complex.

The exposition averaged 100,000 visitors a day, with highest day of attendance being 184,000 visitors on 29 October 1988 - the last day before the Closing Ceremony.

At the Closing Ceremony of Expo '88 at the River Stage there were fireworks and a concert, with the famous Australian pop-folk band, The Seekers, singing one of their most famous songs "The Carnival Is Over" at the very end of the celebrations, in what has become an Australian tradition. As Judith Durham was not available to join the other Seekers for the Expo '88 Closing Ceremony celebrations, popular Australian soprano Julie Anthony joined the group as the lead vocalist in her stead.


The Nepal Peace Pagoda and South Bank Parklands

After the end of the Expo, various contingency plans were mooted as to possible future developments. One proposal was for a 'second' CBD-area to be developed, however this proposal was rejected. A second proposal, incorporating extensive parklands, boutique retail, as well as low-medium residential development, was later accepted, and four years after the closure of Expo 88, the site was reopened as South Bank Parklands, which is managed by the South Bank Corporation, a State Government of Queensland corporation.

The only remaining traces of the Exposition on the former site are the Nepal Peace Pagoda, part of the Nepalese representation from the Expo, a traditional three-storey hand-made wooden replica of a famous Pagoda in Kathmandu, the Board Walk at the south end of the parklands, and two (since renovated) Pubs, the Plough Inn and the Ship Inn.

The River Stage and the Suncorp Piazza

Two of the most popular performing arts venues from the Expo took on a new form at the conclusion of the Expo as the Brisbane River Stage and the Suncorp Piazza at new venues at the Brisbane City Botanic Gardens and South Bank Parklands. These two outdoor performing arts venues today welcome visitors from all over Brisbane and all over the world to a variety of performing arts genres.

The Skyneedle

The Skyneedle (or "Night Companion") is 88 metres high and beams light skywards with a visibility of more than 60 kilometres during special events.

The Skyneedle, which was originally built for World Expo'88, was to be relocated to Tokyo Disneyland after the Expo. Hairdresser and local celebrity Stefan bought the rights and moved it 500 metres from its original location at South Bank to his corporate headquarters in South Brisbane, where it remains a prominent Brisbane landmark.

culpture park

During Expo the park was filled with 90 sculptures, one of the largest and most prestigious displays the country had ever hosted. [cite book |title=Sculpture : the World Expo 88 collection |last=Bacon |first=Phillip |authorlink= |coauthors=World Expo 88 |year=1988 |publisher=Philip Bacon Galleries |location=Brisbane, Australia |isbn=0731627636 |pages=5 ] Sixteen pieces were commissioned for the event, while others were on loan. Also the 100-strong plaster of paris 'Human Factor' sculpture series which captured the whimsy of persons in day-to-day life, were also put up for private sale, with many of them being purchased for shopping centres and arcades. Some of the works that were for sale have been purchased by the Brisbane City Council and are on display at various places in the city today. Most notably, one can find Gidon Graetz's work 'Mirage' in the Brisbane Arcade, and Jon Barlow Hudson (USA)'s work "Morning Star II", located at the Brisbane City Botanic Gardens.

One can view and take part in a Heritage Walk of some of the major works at the World Expo '88 Art Heritage trail at Foundation Expo '88. [ [http://www.foundationexpo88.org/abouttrail.html About the Trail] — Foundation Expo 88 ] .

The Japan Pond & Garden

The Japan Pond & Garden from the Japanese Government Pavilion was gifted to the City of Brisbane at the end of the Expo and was re-located to the Mount Coot-tha Botanic Gardens.

Australia Pavilion letters

The colourful several metre high Australia Pavilion letters, designed by Australian artist Ken Done were synonymous with the success of the Expo, and were purchased by Shaftesbury Citizenship Campus at the end of the Expo, for their Burpengary Campus. From the end of Expo till 2008 the letters could be viewed along the Bruce Highway near Burpengary as one approaches Brisbane City, a reminder of their successful role at World Expo '88. Although the letters are presently for sale [http://groups.google.com/group/fexpo88/browse_thread/thread/b746f681db4ecff2/d467c477fc037363?lnk=raot] , it is not known their future intended location.

World Expo Park - the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre

World Expo Park, the Expo's fun rollercoaster theme park located adjacent to the Expo site was intended to be a permanent legacy of the Expo at its conclusion. Citing lack of patronage however, it closed down just a year after the Expo closed its doors. The site of World Expo Park was re-developed into the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre, and gave the City of Brisbane a world-class convention centre in the midst of the City - an indirect gift of the hosting of the Expo.


On 30 April 2004, sixteen years after the Expo's official opening, a non-government not-for-profit commemorative foundation for the Exposition was launched, named Foundation Expo '88, comprising of commemorative website, Association, and Museum. The website aims to be the premier online resource for World Expo '88 and is located at [ [http://www.foundationexpo88.org/ Foundation Expo 88] ] . The Association, The Friends of the Pagoda Association, bases its activities at the Nepal Peace Pagoda from the Expo, which houses at the Pagoda first level a commemorative Museum display of memorabilia from Expo. For more information visit [ [http://www.foundationexpo88.org/friendsofthepagoda/ Friends of the Pagoda] — Foundation Expo 88] ] .

The Foundation and Association host activities at the Pagoda, including two Annual meetings on the anniversary dates of the opening and closing of the Expo, on 30 April and 30 October, as well as events that further the memory of World Expo '88 on the local and international stage.

20th Anniversary Celebrations

Celebrations for the 20th Anniversary of the Expo were held at South Bank Parklands during May, 2008. Celebrations included a charity dinner on Friday 9 May at the Great Hall of the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre, and a community day of celebration on 10 May, which popularly featured entertainment from the Expo, fireworks, interpretive displays and themed walks, and a Suncorp Spirit of Expo Staff Breakfast [ [http://www.southbankcelebrates88.com.au/#Expo 88 South Bank celebrates 88] ] , also attended by then Lord Mayor of Brisbane Sallyanne Atkinson, and Expo Chair & CEO Sir Llewellyn Edwards.



External links

* [http://www.foundationexpo88.org/aboutcontents.html Foundation Expo '88]
* [http://www.natureworks.com.au/clients/index.htm Nature Works - Expo '88]
* [http://www.stefan.com.au/history/skyneedle_01.html Stefan's Expo '88 Skyneedle]
* [http://www.expomuseum.com/1988/ ExpoMuseum's Expo '88 Section]

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