Bureau of International Expositions

Bureau International des Expositions
Formation 22 November 1928
Type International Exhibitions
Headquarters France Paris, France
169 members
Denmark Steen Christensen
Spain Vicente Gonzalez Loscertales
Website www.bie-paris.org

The Bureau International des Expositions (French: Bureau International des Expositions, BIE) is an intergovernmental organization created to supervise international exhibitions (also known as expos or world's fairs) falling under the jurisdiction of the Convention Relating to International Exhibitions.

Founding and purpose

The BIE was established by the Convention Relating to International Exhibitions, signed in Paris on 22 November 1928, with the following goals:

To February 4, 2016, 169 member countries have adhered to the BIE Convention.

The BIE regulates two types of expositions: Registered Exhibitions (commonly called World Expos) and Recognized Exhibitions (commonly called International or Specialized Expositions). Horticultural Exhibitions with an A1 grade, regulated by the International Association of Horticultural Producers, are recognized since 1960.

The Bureau International des Expositions also recognises the Milan Triennial Exhibition of Decorative Arts and Modern Architecture, on grounds of historical precedence, provided that it retains its original features.

Member states

169 countries are member states of the BIE:[1]

Former members


On October 16, 2012, the Conservative government ended Canada's membership of the BIE when the federal government cancelled its $25,000 per year membership fee as part of “reviewing all spending across government with the aim of reducing the deficit and returning to balanced budgets."[6]

United States

Only five world's fair events have been sanctioned by the BIE in the United States since World War II: the Century 21 Exposition in Seattle (1962), HemisFair '68 in San Antonio, Expo '74 in Spokane, Washington, the 1982 World's Fair in Knoxville, Tennessee and the 1984 Louisiana World Exposition in New Orleans, Louisiana.[7] The USA had its membership of the BIE withdrawn in June 2001. The cause was the non-allocation of funds by the U.S. Congress for two years. The United States Congress has not provided a specific reason for failing to pay membership.

The BIE remains open to participation from the United States. In a letter from April 20, 2006, the secretary-general said, "As you are aware, the United States government withdrew from the BIE in June 2001. Citizens realize and would welcome the strong impact a world's fair can have on their city, state and country. It would be wonderful to, once again, attend an exhibition in the United States."[8] Participation in the BIE is controlled by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The online news source Ranger reported:

Dr. Robert Rydell, head of the Humanities Institute at Montana State University and world's fair expert, said the American public lost interest in world's fairs in the 1990s after some disappointing world's fairs in the 1980s.
Indeed, world's fairs were seen as a joke by many; the 1982 world's fair in Knoxville, Tenn., for instance, was the subject of ridicule in the 1996 episode of The Simpsons "Bart on the Road." Rydell said the 1982 fair was not as bad as many people make it out to be.
This bad impression, a drive to save taxpayer money and increasing nationalism in America resulted in then-Secretary of State Colin Powell withdrawing the United States from the body governing World's Fairs, the Bureau of International Expositions, in 2001.[9]

Registered Expositions

Since the start of the 21st century, Universal (now called Registered) Expositions may occur every five years, lasting six months, on '5' and '0' ending years, i.e. Expo 2010 in Shanghai, Expo 2015 in Milan, and so forth. Countries, international organizations, civil societies, and corporations are allowed to participate in Registered Expositions. The themes of Universal Expositions are broad and pan-humanistic in nature, and the participants must design and build their own pavilions, however, there are exceptions where the Expo Authority at a Registered Exposition constructs pavilion buildings or joint pavilion buildings to maximise participation and alleviate representation costs for developing nations. Examples of themes of recent Universal Expositions include "Man and His World" for Expo '67 in Montreal, and "Discovery" for Seville Expo '92, and examples of joint pavilion buildings for a Registered Exposition is the Plaza of America at Seville's Expo '92 which was constructed by the Seville Expo Authority to maximize participation at the fair by South American nations. The Plaza of Africa at Seville was constructed for the same purpose.

Registered Expositions are also massive in scale, sometimes 300 or 400 hectares in size (Montreal's Expo 67 was 410 hectares, Osaka's Expo 70 was 330 hectares, Seville's Expo 92 was 215 hectares and Shanghai's Expo 2010 528 hectares), and Pavilions participating at a Registered Exposition can also be large, sometimes 5,000 to 10,000 square metres in size, mini city blocks in themselves and sometimes more than several stories in height. (The Australia Pavilion for Shanghai 2010 was 5,000 square metres, the British Pavilion sat on a 6,000 square metres lot, as did the Canadian Pavilion. The flagship Chinese National Pavilion had 20,000 square metres of exhibition space.) Shanghai Expo 2010 allowed three types of Pavilion structures, (i) designed and constructed by the participant; (2) individual Pavilions designed and constructed by the Expo Authority for rent to the participant; (3) joint pavilions designed and constructed by the Expo Authority for rent to developing nations.

Also due to the fact that they are usually held in major centres of world population, Registered Expositions have been known to average 200,000 persons per day of visitors - or more - and some 50 to 70 million visitors during their six-month duration. Montreal's Expo 67 attracted 54 million visitors, Osaka's Expo '70, 64 million visitors, the Seville Expo '92, 41 million visitors and Shanghai's Expo 2010 attracted 70 million visitors.

As a result, transport and other infrastructure at a Registered Exposition is an important concern (Seville's Universal Exposition of 1992 boasted cable car, monorail, boat, and bus) and the overall cost for hosting and being represented at a Universal Exposition is quite high, compared to the smaller International/Specialised scale Expositions.

Recognized Expositions

Since the start of the 21st Century, International/Specialised Expositions (now called Recognized Expositions) may occur between Registered Expositions and last from six weeks to three months in duration, i.e. Expo 2008 in Zaragoza (Spain), Expo 2012 in Yeosu (South Korea). Countries, international organizations, civil societies, and corporations are allowed to participate but the exposition must have a precise character for its theme. An example of a theme of a recent International Recognized Exposition is the 1988 World Exposition, popularly known as World Expo 88 of Brisbane, Australia, which had as its theme "Leisure in the Age of Technology". The pavilions are built by the hosts and not the participants, and there is no rent for pavilions. Nevertheless, the largest pavilion may be no larger than 1000 square meters, and the site of the fair must not exceed an area of twenty-five hectares. For this reason Recognized Expositions are cheaper to run than Registered Expositions, and more money is spent on content of the pavilion as opposed to its design. Nonetheless, there are exceptions where a participant designs and constructs its own Pavilion where ethnic work is involved, i.e. bush huts for islands of the South Pacific, a pagoda for Nepal or Japan or Thailand, etc. A nation or organization does not need to be a member of the B.I.E. to be represented at a B.I.E. Exposition.

Expo Mascots

Seymore D. Fair, first ever World Expo Mascot.

The use of mascots in World Exposition began with the 1984 Louisiana World Exposition. Seymore D. Fair, a 7'6" tall white pelican, was the official mascot of the 1984 Louisiana World Exposition as well as the first mascot at any world's fair. Seymore was seen as a way to highlight the fresh water theme and appeal to children and was followed by many more whimsical character mascots.


The anthem of the International Exhibitions Bureau is the starting part of the 4th Movement of Dvořák's Symphony No. 9 in E Minor "From the New World".

See also


External links

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