History of Russia's participation in Expo

Since the very first universal exhibition held in London in 1851 Russia was a permanent member of the World Exhibitions, which later were given their final name - EXPO.

Strengthening of the Russian nation, its independence is inseparably linked with Russia's participation in global and international exhibitions. Russian Empire, the Soviet Union and the Russian Federation were the traditional participants of global universal exhibitions. Impressive architectural and exhibition projects of our country helped create architectural ensembles of exhibitions and often become the new pages in history of architecture.

At the universal exhibitions the world got to know the unique Russian architecture, fine and decorative art, industrial, agricultural and handicraft production, which greatly enhanced the prestige of Russia abroad. Russia's participation strengthened trade ties with foreign partners, favoured the close cultural ties and joint projects.

Russian Empire participated in international exhibitions on a regular basis, thus serving traditional objectives: to study the international experience, to present developments and products, to establish contacts with foreign partners. At the first world exhibitions the Russians erected pavilions, Moscow Kremlin stylized, treated delicious dishes of Russian cuisine to foreigners and offered to admire Siberian furs and precious stones.

At the beginning of the twentieth century Russia began to assert itself as an industrial power. At Paris exhibition in 1900 besides towers and Faberge items visitors could see Russian furniture, factory cottons and other industrial products, as well as an exhibit devoted to Trans-Siberian Railway and the first Russian cars.

Since USSR came into existence, expositions for the world exhibitions were filled with a new ideology, but did not lose its grandeur, monumentality and solidity.

The Russian Federation has already represented its expositions at several world exhibitions. The regular development of economy, technology, industry, allows us from year to year to maintain a high image of the country in the world arena, as well as to demonstrate the newest projects and developments in all strategically important and innovative areas.

Some World Exhibitions with Russian participation:


London, 1851

Paris, 1855

Paris, 1878

Paris, 1900

Paris, 1925

Paris, 1937

New York, 1939

Brussels, 1958

Montreal, 1967

Osaka, 1970

Okinawa, 1975

Vancouver, 1986

Brisbane, 1988

Taejon, 1993

Lisbon, 1998

Hannover, 2000

Nagoya, 2005

Russia took part in the first World universal exhibition in London in 1851. 363 Russian exhibitors presented their exhibits at Crystal Palace, built specially for exhibition. Protectionist policy of Government in relation to participants of such exhibitions allowed to ensure high activity and a large number of participants from Russia. Russian participants of the World Exhibitions received material privileges, such as, for example, discounts for transportation of the exhibits. Russian department presented 365 exhibits, 130 of which were awarded with three medals of the highest value, 60 medals of the second class and 67 positive responses.


The exhibits of Russian Department of the exhibition provoked great interest of the public. Russian craftsmen brought shawls, Ural precious stones, metal products, magnificent brocade, felt boots and other things. Shawls and fabrics produced in Russia were estimated by the public and experts. Jasper vase of Yekaterinburg factory won the first prize of the exhibition. A well-known metallurgist Anosov took part in exhibition and presented the most valuable exhibit of Russian Department - damask. This sword was produced by lost and then restored in 1841 receipt.


The Russian pavilion was the most outstanding structure of the Street of Nations. It was a real triumph of Russian architecture. Pavilion of architect Ropet got responses of foreign and Russian press. In addition, electric lamps of Yablochkov named Russian light became a real sensation of the exhibition of 1978. Every other year the lamps lit the streets in London, Paris and St. Petersburg.



At the World Exhibitions of 1867-1889 the main emphasis was put on our exotic architecture, but later a luxurious style of Russian pavilion was supplemented with a reputable exposition. At exhibition in 1900 the Government decided to demonstrate the technical strength of Russia. Due to special friendly relations between Russia and France, Russian Department took the largest exhibition area of 24 000 m ?. Russia spent nearly 6 million rubles for participation in exhibition; about half of money was allocated by different establishments and exhibitors. D. Mendeleyev participated actively in exhibition; he was vice-president of the International Jury. For some parts of Russian exposition several separate buildings were built, because of the lack of space. During the exhibition Russian exposition received 1589 awards: 212 higher, 370 gold, 436 silver and 347 bronze medals and 224 honorable responses. Russian inventor Popov was awarded with the Gold Medal for achievements in the field of radio communications. Russian engineer L. Proskuryakov got the Gold Medal from committee headed by Gustave Eiffel for the project of Krasnoyarsk railway bridge.


Participation of USSR was one of the first act of cultural interchange between USSR and France after establishment of diplomatic relations between the countries in October, 28 1924 The Soviet pavilion at International Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts was built of wood according to the project of architect Melnikov and became one of the most popular pavilions at exhibition. The pavilion was one of the first implementations of innovative masterpieces both of Soviet and of the world architecture of XX century. The main artist of the USSR pavilion Rodchenko designed the club of workers of USSR ("the reading-room") and the cover of the Soviet catalogue. Posters drawn by Rodchenko got a silver medal. Film director Eisenstein received a silver medal for the film "Strike". The products of Vologda lace makers got gold medal of International Exhibition.


Battle at the exhibition developed between two powerful nations - the Stalinist Soviet Union and Nazi Germany. At the exhibition both sides presented propaganda by art. The largest were the Soviet and German pavilions. The Soviet pavilion was a long gallery of 150 m. Projected by B.Iofan building was faced with Samarkand marble and topped by famous 24-meter sculpture of worker and collective farmer, designed by Mukhina. Entrance was decorated by bas-reliefs of the sculptor Chaikov, coats of arms of the USSR, and of 11 Soviet republics. The Soviet Union also presented a map of the country made of precious metals and stones. German pavilion according to plan of Speer was built in the form of Roman numeral III. At the foot of the tower of the pavilion sculptural group of J.Tourac "Partnership" was installed and the top was crowned with the emblem of the Third Reich. Soviet and German pavilions shared the main prize. However, the visitors remember pavilion of the USSR, striking by its expression and motion transference, as if it flies upwards. Perfectly matching the architectural forms of the Eiffel tower, pavilion has become the most symbolic and memorable, and the famous sculpture "A Worker and a Collective Farmer" is still a symbol of the USSR and Russia of that time. In addition, Speer got Grand Prix for the design project of the area of congresses. Soviet locomotive got another Grand Prix.


At Universal Exhibition in New York in 1939 the Soviet Union by specific examples demonstrated that the "world of tomorrow belongs to socialism. Pavilion of the USSR was a monumental building, made of marble in the form of a semi-circle and occupying the area of 12,000 square meters. An obelisk topped by a statue of a worker with a ruby star in his raised handmade of stainless steel was erected before it. Visitors wrote more than 80 thousand enthusiastic entries to the visitors book. Their entries noted that the pavilion of the USSR was the best at the exhibition. That time in Soviet pavilion visitors were suggested sitting in the carriage of the train of Moscow metro, around them there was a fragment of Mayakovskaya station. Besides the models of airplanes and ships, there was Chkalov plane, on which Chkalov flew over the North Pole.


In 1958 in Brussels the first postwar exhibition was held. The Belgian press called the Soviet pavilion "Parthenon made of steel and glass. Architects and builders from many countries made special attention of unusual architecture and original design of the pavilion. Exhibition of the pavilion was devoted to the theme "Peace and Work" and included 18 sections. In Brussels the USSR exceeded the United States, showing 84-kilogram copy of the first artificial Earth satellite. The number of visitors reached 30 million. Belgian press called the pavilion of the Soviet Union "Pavilion 1". The success of the Soviet exhibition was predetermined by the fact that several months before the opening of the exhibition the USSR launched two satellites into space. Models of both satellites were exhibited in the Soviet pavilion, and people queued up to see that miracle of space technology. The pavilion was full of machines and other mechanisms, and life of Soviet people was represented by two exemplary apartments. The pavilion sparkled with glass walls and looked impressive. One of the Belgian officials told reporters: "Some people thought that the Russian pavilion would be a great stylized peasant's log hut, but we saw a miracle of modern architecture." Europe was impressed by the Soviet stands since the goods presented at them met the standards of quality.


Expo, which took place in 1967 in Montreal under the slogan "Man and his World, introduced innovation - national days. The Soviet pavilion at the territory of 16 thousand square metres was called "Crystal Palace" or "Flying roof. The motto of the Soviet exhibition was "Everything in the name of a man" revealed by five thematic sections. According to the summary data the Soviet Union attracted record number of visitors - 13 million, the 2nd place went to Canada, France and the United States (each of them attracted 9 million visitors). Montreal pavilion of the USSR was supplied with a roof curved like ski jumping, and Canadians called the construction a "flying roof".


At EXPO in Osaka the Soviet Union once again surprised the public by its pavilion. The form of the building, according to the designers intention, symbolized a red flag. Concave surface of the facade was trimmed with red plates, making a grand building (109 m) unusually impressive against the background of blue sky. The total area of the Soviet pavilion was 25 thousand sq. m., including 13 thousand sq. m. of exhibition. Theme of the exhibition was presented by seven sections, among them: "Man and the City", "Man - the creator", "Science and technology serving a man", etc. At the flagstaff of the building there was the pavilion of space, where models of spacecraft were presented, "cosmic" lights blinked and "cosmic" music sounded.




In 1975 in Okinawa, the USSR introduced the world's first large-scale map of the ocean bed, which was the most unique exhibit.





The area of the Soviet pavilion at EXPO-86 Cooperation by means of transport was 3500 sq.m. The main exhibit of the Soviet pavilion was the model of the orbital complex "Salyut-Soyuz-Progress".




The Soviet exposition at EXPO-88 "Leisure in the age of technology" in Brisbane was located in separate pavilion occupying 2000 sq.m. Main themes of the exhibition were "Leisure and habitation", "Leisure and Health", "Leisure in motion", "Leisure and Creativity". Numerous seminars and “roundtables” were organized according to the first two themes.
The work of the craftsmen: wood carvers, glassblowers and masters of khokhloma painting attracted great attention of visitors. The Soviet pavilion was one of the 4 most frequently visited pavilions. At the end of the exhibition Australian Government sent a letter to Government of the USSR, in which the Soviet pavilion and the work of its staff was highly estimated.


The exposition of Russia was one of the largest at EXPO-93. It occupied 1000 sq.m. of indoor area and 1000 sq.m. of outdoor area. The latest scientific developments and patterns of technology in the field of outer space and oceans research, modern-looking aircraft, as well as methods of environmentally clean energy source producing were displayed. Full size model of orbital complex "Mir" was among the exhibits.



At EXPO-98 in Lisbon Russian exposition was located in a separate pavilion occupying the area of 1300 sq.m. Russian exposition showed the role and place of Russian science and technology in the ocean study in 6 sections, including "Study and development of the ocean by Russian scientists and explorers," Russia's contribution to the development and study of the Arctic and the Antarctic ", etc. True interest of visitors was caused by unique projects "Pure ice" and launching site for space rockets launch into space from the equator. The Russian exposition had considerable informational and technical resources and data bank. In June, 12 Russia celebrated Independence Day within the framework of national day. Besides the official celebrations this holiday was marked by an extensive entertainment program: folk performance of Pyatnitskii Choir, trio “Relict”, sextet “Moscow Balalaikas”, ballet performance  “Phantasmal ball” of capital Stanislavskii and Nemirovich – Danchenko theatre, Zurab Sotkilava, Viktor Tretyakov, Yurii Bashmet. 


Expo 2000 was held in the capital of German federal state Lower Saxony Hannover. Expanding the theme of the exhibition "Man-nature-technology, the origin of a new world”, Russia presented achievements in aerospace, medicine, and instrumental complex of Meteorology Centre of Russia having no analogues. 60-meter model of a two-stage carrier rocket “Energia”, which 6 times exceeded the most powerful Western European rocket “Arian” in lift capacity was presented in the section "Man and Technology".



To participate in EXPO - 2005 in Japan Russian Academy of Sciences developed a conception of the Russian exposition with the slogan "Harmony of the noosphere. The main theme was presented by five sections: "Man and Earth", "Man and Space", "Spirituality: mosaic of cultures", "Man and New Technologies", "Crisis situations and recovery from them. Megapolis - the capital of Russia, Moscow”. Over 100 exhibits (the house with a closed cycle of biotic turnover, technologies of energy obtaining and transfer by a laser beam, etc.), 180 films and video presentations presented the latest developments in various sectors - industry, energy, prevention and elimination of consequences of natural and anthropogenic disasters. Cultural values of the Russian Museum, the Hermitage, the Tretyakov Gallery and the Diamond Fund were presented with the use of stereoscopic technologies and vario-stereoscopic images. Japan Association of EXPO 2005 and Government of Japan called a head of a mammoth found in Ust-Yana region of Yakutia a main exhibit.