Expo '58
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Expo '58
1958 Brussels
Expo58 building Philips.jpg
BIE-classUniversal exposition
CategoryFirst category General Exposition
NameExpo 58
Area2 square kilometres (490 acres)
Coordinates50°53?50?N 4°20?21?E / 50.89722°N 4.33917°E / 50.89722; 4.33917
Bidding7 May 1948 (1948-05-07)
AwardedNovember 1953
Opening17 April 1958 (1958-04-17)
Closure19 October 1958 (1958-10-19)
Universal expositions
PreviousExposition internationale du bicentenaire de Port-au-Prince in Port-au-Prince
NextCentury 21 Exposition in Seattle
Specialized Expositions
PreviousInterbau in Berlin
NextExpo 61 in Turin
Horticultural expositions
NextFloriade 1960 in Rotterdam

Expo 58, also known as the Brussels World's Fair (Dutch: Brusselse Wereldtentoonstelling, French: Exposition Universelle et Internationale de Bruxelles), was held from 17 April to 19 October 1958.[1] It was the first major World Expo registered under the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) after World War II.


Nearly 15,000 workers spent three years building the 2 km2 (490 acres) site on the Heysel plateau, 7 kilometres (4.3 mi) northwest of central Brussels, Belgium. Many of the buildings were re-used from the Brussels International Exposition of 1935, which had been held on the same site.[2]

Every 25 years starting in 1855, Belgium had staged large national events to celebrate its national independence following the Belgian Revolution of 1830. However, the Belgian government under prime minister Achille Van Acker decided to forego celebrations in 1955 to have additional funding for the 1958 Expo.[3]

Expo 58 was the 11th World's Fair hosted by Belgium, and the fifth in Brussels, following the fairs in 1888, 1897, 1910 and 1935. Since Expo 58, Belgium has not arranged any more world fairs.


The Atomium

The site is best known for the Atomium, a giant model of a unit cell of an iron crystal (each sphere representing an atom). More than 41 million visitors visited the site,[4] which was opened with a call for world peace and social and economic progress, issued by King Baudouin I.

Notable exhibitions include the Philips Pavilion, where "Poème électronique", commissioned specifically for the location, was played back from 425 loudspeakers, placed at specific points as designed by Iannis Xenakis, and Le Corbusier.[]

Another exhibition at the Belgian pavilion was the Congolese village that some have branded a human zoo.[5]

National pavilions


The Austrian pavilion was designed by Austrian architect Karl Schwanzer in modernist style. It was later transferred to Vienna to host the museum of the 20th century. In 2011 it was reopened under the new name 21er Haus. It included a model Austrian Kindergarten, which doubled as a day care facility for the employees, the Vienna Philharmonic playing behind glass, and a model nuclear fusion reactor that fired every 5 minutes.


Czechoslovakian pavilon was relocated to Prague, now it works as an office space

The exposition "One Day in Czechoslovakia" was designed by Jind?ich Santar who cooperated with artists Ji?í Trnka, Antonín Kybal, Stanislav Libenský and Jan Kotík. Architects of the simple, but modern and graceful construction were Franti?ek Cubr, Josef Hrubý and Zden?k Pokorný. The team's artistic freedom, so rare in the hard-line communist regime of the 1950s, was ensured by the government committee for exhibitions chairman Franti?ek Kahuda. He supported the famous Laterna Magika show, as well as Josef Svoboda's technically unique Polyekran. The Czechoslovak pavilion was visited by 6 million people and was officially awarded the best pavilion of the Expo 58.[6]


This was designed by the architect Pedro Ramírez Vázquez. It was awarded the exposition's star of gold.


The city of Paris had its own pavilion, separate from the French one.

United Kingdom

This was produced by the designer James Gardner, architect Howard Lobb & engineer Felix Samuely. The on-site British architect was Michael Blower, Brussels born and bilingual.[7]


USSR Pavillon during the Expo 58

The Soviet pavilion was a large impressive building which they folded up and took back to Russia when Expo 58 ended. They had a facsimile of Sputnik which mysteriously disappeared, and they accused the US of stealing it[]. They had a bookstore selling science and technology books in English and other languages published by the Moscow Press. On the exposition there was also a model of Lenin the first nuclear icebreaker, and cars: GAZ-21 Volga, GAZ-13 Chaika, ZIL-111, Moskvitch 407 and 423, trucks GAZ-53 and MAZ-525.[8] The Soviet exposition was awarded with a Grand Prix.[8]

Vjenceslav Richter: Original project for Yugoslav Pavilion


The US pavilion was quite spacious and included a fashion show with models walking down a large spiral staircase, an electronic computer that demonstrated a knowledge of history, and a color television studio behind glass. It also served as the concert venue for performance by the Seventh Army Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Edward Lee Alley.[9][10] It was designed by architect Edward Durell Stone.

Federal Republic of Germany

The West German pavilion was designed by the architects Egon Eiermann and Sep Ruf. The world press called it the most polished and sophisticated pavilion of the exhibition.[11]


The pavilion of Yugoslavia was designed by the architect Vjenceslav Richter, who originally proposed to suspend the whole structure from a giant cable-stayed mast. When that proved too complicated, Richter devised a tension column consisting of six steel arches supported by a pre-stressed cable, which stood in front of the pavilion as a visual marker and symbolized Yugoslavia's six constituent republics. Filled with modernist art, the pavilion was praised for its elegance and simplicity and Richter was awarded as Knight of the Order of the Belgian Crown. After the end of Expo 58, the pavilion was sold and reconstructed as a school in the Belgian municipality of Wevelgem, where it still stands.



  • As lots of visitors were expected, SABENA temporarily increased capacity by renting a couple of Lockheed Constellations.
  • For the same reason, and well in time, it was decided to add a new terminal to the Melsbroek national airport; it was to be at the west side of the airport, on the grounds of the municipality of Zaventem, which has since given its name to the airport. A very modern addition was the railway station in the airport, offering direct train service to the city centre, though not to the expo itself.
  • Several tram lines were built to serve the site, those to Brussels remain in service.

Mozart's Requiem incident

Mozart's manuscript, with missing corner

The autograph of Mozart's Requiem was placed on display. At some point, someone was able to gain access to the manuscript, tearing off the bottom right-hand corner of the second to last page (folio 99r/45r), containing the words "Quam olim d: C:". As of 2012 the perpetrator has not been identified and the fragment has not been recovered.[12]

International film poll

The event offered the occasion for the organization by thousands of critics and filmmakers from all over the world, of the first universal film poll in history.[13]

See also


  1. ^ "When the world was in Brussels". Flanders Today. April 16, 2008.[permanent dead link]
  2. ^ Video: Brussels World's Fair, 1958/03/17 (1958). Universal Newsreel. 1958. Retrieved 2012.
  3. ^ Expo 58, The Royal Belgian Film Archive, Revised Edition, 2008, p. 78 (booklet accompanying DVD edition of footage from the exhibition)
  4. ^ Mattie, Eric (1998). Weltausstellungen (in German). Stuttgart/Zürich: Belser Verlag. p. 201. ISBN 3-7630-2358-5.
  5. ^ "Deep Racism: The Forgotten History Of Human Zoos". PopularResistance.Org. 2014-02-18. Retrieved .
  6. ^ MF DNES, Expo 2010, Mimo?ádná p?íloha o sv?tové výstav? v ?anghaji, 3.5.2010.
  7. ^ See chapter by Jonathan Woodham - Caught between Many Worlds: the British Site at Expo '58'(see bibliography)
  8. ^ a b GAZ-21I «Wo?ga», "Avtolegendy SSSR" Nr. 6, 2009, DeAgostini, ISSN 2071-095X (in Russian), p.7
  9. ^ 7th Army Symphony Choronology Historical timeline of the orchestra on 7as0.org
  10. ^ Pan Pipes of Sigma Alpha Iota Vol. 2 p. 47 "Seventh Army Symphony Orchestra performs at the Brussels World Fair 1958 on books.google.com
  11. ^ Jones, Peter Blundell; Canniffe, Eamonn (2012). Modern Architecture Through Case Studies 1945 to 1990. Routledge. p. 28. ISBN 978-1-135-14409-8.
  12. ^ Facsimile of the manuscript's last page, showing the missing corner Archived 2012-01-13 at the Wayback Machine. from Austrian National Library
  13. ^ W?adys?aw Jewsiewicki: "Kronika kinematografii ?wiatowej 1895-1964", Warsaw 1967, no ISBN, page 129 (in Polish)


  • The Architecture of Expo 58 by Rika Devos & Mil De Kooning (eds). Dexia/Mercatorfonds, 2006.

External links

Coordinates: 50°53?48?N 4°20?38?E / 50.89667°N 4.34389°E / 50.89667; 4.34389

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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