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Past ISIE Events

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New Voices in Expo Research

ISIE's 2024 Online Emerging Scholars Symposium
22 March 2024

The 2024 symposium brought emerging scholars and established experts together to generate new ideas about the history and legacy of international expositions. The program emphasized new and developing strategies for research, curation, and preservation in order to maximize outreach opportunities. The event facilitated both scholarly and popular understandings of the significance of these global events that serve as mirrors of concurrent (both real and visionary) political, cultural, and technological conditions of the times in which they were held. We hope that participants left the symposium with both new understandings and insights into the study of expositions as well as stronger connections to the global community of scholars from a vast range of disciplines involved in the study of expositions.

In addition to paper sessions, the symposium included a roundtable event focused on the Institute, as well as opportunities to informally socialize and network with others sharing related interests. 



10:30am EDT: Welcome and Introduction

Dr. James Fortuna, University of St Andrews

Constanza Robles, PhD Candidate, Boston University

10:45am EDT: Session 1: Crafting Immersive Experiences: Visitor Interactions and Exhibition Design


Session Chair: Charles Pappas, Senior Writer, Exhibitor Magazine

Wang Shu, World Expo Museum, Shanghai, The Medium is the Message: Evolution of Communication and Information Dissemination at the Expo

Lian Feng, Inspire Brands/United States Department of State (2022), Exploring the Impact of Youth Ambassadors: An Analysis of Program Structure and Recruitment Processes

Li Qian, Tsinghua University, Theme Development and National Image Construction of World Expo Pavilions in the Era of Transformation

Toby Shulruff, Arizona State University and Levi Wyman, New York University, The Journey to Osaka & Expo 2025: The importance of pavilion design for ‘co-creating the future’

12:30pm EDT: Session 2: Questioning Global Narratives: Cultural Reflections and Competitive Histories

Session Chair: César Corona, CEO,


Ali Reza Shahbazin, McGill University, Montreal, The Queen and Her World: Iran Pavilion at EXPO 67


Robin Thomas, Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Oriental Encounters in the Occident: Architecture of the Ottoman Empire and British India in the 1893 Columbian Exposition

Ketty Iannantuono, Radboud University, Nijmegen, Competitive forms of anchoring the past at world's fairs: the Greek pavilion at the 1911 International Exhibition of Art


2:00pm EDT: Session 3: Beyond Borders: Architectural Utopias, Political Stages, and Paradigms of Representation

Session Chair: Guido Cimadomo, University of Málaga, Spain


Morgan Ross, University of Oklahoma, Visions of Heaven: The 1893 World’s Fair Transportation Building as a Gateway to Paradise


Wim Boerefijn, Independent Scholar, Fascist Italy’s Universal Exposition E.42 in Rome as A Stage for Imperialist Triumph


Anna Gonchar, Technische Universität München, Exhibition Design as a Political Statement. State Representations at the International Press Exhibition 1928


3:30pm EDT: Session 4: Charting New Horizons: Exploring Future Frontiers - Round Table Panel Discussion


Charles Pappas, Senior Writer, Exhibitor Magazine


César Corona, CEO,

James Fortuna, Historian, PhD, University of St. Andrews

Constanza Robles, PhD candidate, Boston University


End of Day: Social Gathering & Book Giveaway


Stay for our social hour to connect with expo colleagues and continue conversations, as well as a chance to win a copy of Flying Cars, Zombie Dogs, and Robot Overlords by Charles Pappas in our book giveaway!!!


This symposium was made possible thanks to generous support from the College of Architecture, Planning, and Landscape Architecture at the University of Arizona and the Centre for Transformative Media Technologies at Swinburne University, Australia.

ISIE’s Second Annual Online Symposium
‘Best Practices in International Exposition Design’
23-24 March 2023


The two-day online symposium included papers and panels by scholars and practitioners from around the world that explored design lessons from past and present international expositions potentially relevant to today's and tomorrow's expos.

Symposium Chairs

Guido Cimadomo, Associate Professor, Universidad de Málaga

Charles Pappas, Senior Writer, Exhibitor Magazine

Lisa Schrenk, Professor of Architectural History, CAPLA, University of Arizona


Schedule: Day 1

10:30am EDT: Welcome and Introduction

Dr. Lisa Schrenk, Professor of Architectural History, University of Arizona, USA

Dr. Nancy Pollock-Ellwand, Dean, CAPLA, University of Arizona, USA

10:40am EDT: Paper Session One: Transforming the City: Early Expo Development and Housing


Session Chair: Dr. Sarah Moore, University of Arizona

Lucie Prohin, Housing the Working-Class at International Expositions During the Second Half of 19th Century

Miriam R. Levin, What Were World’s Fairs for? Catalysts for Modern Urban Development in the Second Industrial Revolution

Eduardo Jiménez-Morales & Guido Cimadomo, The 1929 Ibero-American Exposition at Seville. The Role of New Hotels in the Transformation of the City

12:10pm EDT: Paper Session Two: National and Corporate Identity and Design

Session chair: James Fortuna, University of St Andrews


Lisa D. Schrenk, Lessons Learned: Relevant Design Practices from Chicago’s 1933-34 Century of Progress International Exposition


Edson G. Cabalfin, Representing Postcolonial Identity in Philippine Pavilions in International Expositions, 1958


Harry Kurniawan, The Strategy to Represent the Diversity of Indonesia in Indonesia Pavilion for International Expositions


1:40pm EDT: Paper Session Three: Innovations: Food & Design

Session Chair: Constanza A. Robles Sepúlveda, Boston University, USA & Chile


Zeila Tesoriere & Renzo Lecardane, Blurring the Pavilion at Expo '70 Osaka. The Festival Plaza Framed Under an Urban Performative Canopy


Rafael Ortiz, Vernacular Design for the Development of Sustainable Strategies on Expos Pavilions after Expo Hannover 2000


Van Troi Tran, Food Logistics and Mundane Governance at the Shanghai World Expo


3:10pm EDT: Paper Session Four: Recent & Future Expos: Goals, Labs, & Challenges

Session Chair: Dr. Guido Cimadomo, University of Málaga, Spain


Patrice Ballester, The SDGs and the World Expo – Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) Across the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Analysis: Towards a New Paradigm of Mega-Events?


Toby Shulruff & Levi Wyman, A Trip Through Tomorrowland: The World Expo as Futures Lab


Mark Ritchie, Interaction of Politics and Design - Exploring the Political Dynamics That Shaped the Minnesota 2027 Expo Bid

5:00pm EDT: Panel Session One: Doing It Right    

Session Chair: Charles Pappas, Exhibitor Magazine

Sarah Manning co-founder and director of Spaceagency on the wayfinding and signage of Expo 2020       

Kathy Johnson from St. Cloud State University’s Center for International Disability Advocacy and Diplomacy on how Expo 2020 approached disability issues


Victor Torregroza, brand experiences program manager, global event marketing for Intel Corp., on reducing the reliance on screens to convey information and deliver experiences

End of Day: Social Gathering

Connect with colleagues with similar Expo interests and continue the discussion

Schedule: Day 2

10:00am EDT: Introductory Remarks

Disscussion: Charles Pappas, Senior Writer, Exhibitor Magazine

10:05am EDT: Panel Session Two: Back to the Future I

Disscussion: Charles Pappas, Senior Writer, Exhibitor Magazine

Harald Dosch, director of business development, NUSSLI Group, on the designs of the Austrian and Kazakhstan pavilions in 2020, and a sneak preview of Expo 2025   


Lara Captan, Arabic type designer and typographer, on the design of the calligraphy benches with Asif Khan at Expo 2020


Sahera Bleibleh, associate professor, architectural engineering department, College of Engineering, United Arab Emirates University, and Exhibition Director and Operations for the UAEU Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai, on how youth perceived Expo and may shape future development of UAE, and futuristic cities in general.


Marta Sękulska-Wrońska and Michał Czerwiński, architects from WXCA Architect, discussing the Poland Pavilion at Expo 2020


Carmen Bueno, executive curator of the Spanish Pavilion for Expo 2020

Intermission: Photo Show of Dubai Expo

~11:45am EDT: Panel Session Three: Back to the Future II        

Disscussion: Charles Pappas, Senior Writer, Exhibitor Magazine   


Alvaro Torrellas and León Carlos Álvarez, from Icaria Atelier, designers of the Vision and Opportunity Pavilions at Expo 2020                                         


Serina Hijjas, architect, of the Malaysia Pavilion at Expo 2020                    


Oliver Poole CEO of Zebek Ltd. on the use of storytelling and design in the Gabon Pavilion


John Boon, head of the landscape architecture and Green City Advisory Group, Arcadis, with the International Association of Horticultural Producers (AIPH), on masterplanning guidelines for world and horticultural exhibitions                                        

1:45pm EDT: Panel Session Four: Things to Come

Disscussion: Dr. Guido Cimadomo, University of Málaga, Spain

Javier Pérez de la Fuente, from Municipality of Malaga, Office of Urban Planning, architect of Malaga’s Expo 2027


David Loehr, principal of DLR Group, on the design of Minneapolis' Expo 2027 master plan


Roman Grygoryshyn, deputy head of the Odessa Regional State Administration for Odesa Expo 2030


Matteo Gatto, from Matteo Gatto & Associati, technical director for Rome’s 2030 master plan    


End of Day: Social Gathering / Final Discussion

Connect with colleagues with similar Expo interests and continue the discussion

ISIE's Inaugural Symposium
‘International Expositions: Looking to the Past, Seeing the Future’ 
24-25 March 2022

The 2022 symposium brought scholars and enthusiasts together to generate new ideas about the history and legacy of international expositions. The symposium sought to emphasize new and developing strategies for research, curation, and preservation to maximize outreach opportunities.

Keynote Speakers

Robert Rydell ISIE keynote.jpg

Robert Rydell

Department of History, Montana State University

Further Reflections on World’s Fair Scholarship

The study of world’s fairs is nothing like it was in 1975 when I was beginning my doctoral work on international expositions. Today, it is safe to say that world’s fair studies are no longer ephemeral (to repurpose a key term once deployed by Paul Greenhalgh to describe world’s fairs themselves).  Indeed, the study of these festivals of modernity has become a field in its own right and a core undertaking in many academic disciplines. Several scholars have taken stock of this work.  I have done so in my “Books of the Fairs” (1992) and “New Directions for Scholarship about World Expos” (2008). And there is the monumental bibliography compiled by Alexander Geppert, Jean Coffey, and Tammy Lau (2006) as well as the essays in John Findling and Kimberly Pelle’s Encyclopedia of World’s Fairs and Expositions (2008). To my knowledge, there has not been a comprehensive overview of what scholars have accomplished over the last decade and I won’t attempt to provide one in my brief remarks for this symposium. But I do want to share some reflections about recent scholarship on international expositions and offer some thoughts about some possible future directions.


Robert Rydell is Emeritus Professor of History and American Studies at Montana State University. Beginning with All the World’s A Fair (1984), he has published extensively on the history of world fairs, especially about their centrality for embedding racism and imperialism into the political cultures of modern nation-states. Along with Rob Kroes, he organized a major research project at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study on the reception of American mass culture in Europe. He also served as guest curator for the exhibition Designing Tomorrow: America's World’s Fairs in the 1930 and editor for the related book (Yale U. Press, 2010).

Symposium Program

Day 1

10:00 Introduction and Introductory Keynote – Robert Rydell

Further Reflections on World’s Fair Scholarship


11:00 Keynote Sudesh Mantillake

Navigating Strange Spaces: Sri Lankan Performers in Colonial Exhibitions 

12:00 Session 1A: Expositions as Geopolitical Spaces 

Session chair: James Fortuna (University of St Andrews)

Charlotte Rottiers (KU Leuven) – “From the Rue des Nations to the Rue des Legations: The pavilion and the 

diplomatic building as instruments in the Belgian Foreign Policy (1880’s-1914)”

Emily Gunzburger Makas (University of North Carolina at Charlotte) – “Bosnia-Hercegovina at Paris 1900: Colonialism, Nationalism, and Pan-Slavism”


Constanza A. Robles Sepúlveda (Boston University) – “Visualizing Alliances through Art and Architecture: The Pan American Exposition in Buffalo (1901)”


Larisa Mantovani (Centro de Investigaciones en Arte y Patrimonio (Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas - Universidad Nacional de San Martín)) – “Artistic industries and yerba mate: the Argentine pavilion at the Paris Exposition of 1937”

14:00 Session 1B: Expositions and Empire

Session chair: Van Troi Tran (Université Laval)

Emma Laube (The Ohio State University) – “The 1937 Paris Expo: Was China There? Publishers, Governments, and Visual Culture on the Global Stage”


Peter Clericuzio (Edinburgh) – “A Synecdoche of Empire: International Expositions and the Great Mosque of Djenné”


Rikke Lie Halberg (Lund University) – “The Danish West Indies at the 'World Expo' in Copenhagen 1888 and Beyond”

15:30 Session 1C: Expositions and Environment

Session chair: Guido Cimadomo (University of Málaga)


Rafael Ortiz Martínez de Carnero (University of Seville) – “European International Expositions in the last decade of the Twentieth Century: The transition from classic Expo models to a new ecological and sustainable sensitivity”


Guido Cimadomo (Universidad de Málaga), Renzo Lecardane (Università di Palermo) – Prolonging the Magic: From Ephemerality to Translatability”


Deanna L. Nord (Nord Strategy Group) "From Utopian Vision to a Legacy of Action:  How a World’s Fair Can Accelerate Health Equity and Sustainability"

17:00 Keynote Sarah Moore

Classical Temple of Unhewn Logs: World’s Fair in the Wilderness 1909

18:00 ISIE Roundtable

Join us in helping to shape the future directions of ISIE and exposition scholarship

19:00 Thematic Breakout Rooms

Connect with colleagues with similar Expo interests.

Day 2

10:00 Keynote Van Troi Tran

Passports, pins, plushies and peddlers: the material life of the Shanghai World Expo   


11:00 Session 2A: Expositions and Material Culture

Session chair: Sarah Moore  (University of Arizona)

Christina Hellmich (de Young Museum) – “The 1894 California Midwinter International Exposition and San Francisco”


Sara Albuquerque and  Angela Salgueiro (University of Evora) – “Glimpses of the colonial collections at the 1862 London Exhibition: The case of the Angolan ‘Objects’ at the Portuguese section”


Avigail Moss (University of Southern California) – “Valued Risks: Insuring Fine and Applied Art at International Exhibitions”

13:00 Session 2B: Re-evaluating the Exposition City 

Session chair: Lisa Schrenk (University of Arizona)

David Roberts (University of Newcastle) – “Spaceframes: population and allegory in Expo ’70 Osaka”


Sofia Quiroga Fernandez (Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University [XJTLU]) – “The EAT Research centre collaboration in the 1970 Osaka World Exhibition”


Stefania Portinari (Ca’ Foscari University of Venice) – “Mapping the Unpredictable: An Atlas of Expanded Geographies. Pavilions of Power and Imagination at the Venice Biennale”

15:00 Session 2C: Open Session

Session chair: Laura Hollengreen (University of Arizona)

Alice Nogueira Alves (Universidade de Lisboa) – “The Paris Universal Exhibition of 1878/79 seen by the Portuguese writer Ramalho Ortigão”


Jyoti Mohan (University of Maryland) – “Reversing the Gaze: Indians at Chicago’s Columbian Exposition”


Bobby Schweizer, Rebecca Rouse (Texas Tech University) – “Amusement Identities on the Midway, Pike, Gayway and Beyond”


Martina Motta (Politecnico di Torino) – "The aquarium and the city"

17:00 Closing Keynote: Mark Ritchie

Bringing the World Expo Movement Back to America

18:00 Closing Remarks / Social  Breakout Rooms

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 Lecture Description

The pavilion of the USSR was one of the architectural surprises of Expo 58, the world’s fair organized in Brussels, Belgium (1958). This talk revisits the pavilion of the USSR as a key moment in the development of the new architectural style that later would become known as Soviet Modernism. Indeed, modern architecture became the lingua franca for international participants at Expo 58. The Soviet Union represented itself with a monumental beam-shaped glass building consisting mainly of glass, steel and aluminium, resulting in nicknames like the 'Parthenon of Glass and Steel', 'The Refrigerator' or ‘The Greenhouse’. Interpretations and reviews from the perspective of the Cold War concluded at the time that the pavilion simply copied the principles of the International Style, and was just a poor copy or pastiche of modern (Western) building principles. This talk revisits the design process of the Pavilion of the USSR within the changing architectural culture and legal framework at home: while Khrushchev announced an architectural revolution in the USSR, the architectural competition for the Pavilion at Expo 58 was launched. This presentation draws on archival research conducted in Belgian and Russian archives. Analysis of sketches, mock-ups, and multiple reworked versions, parallel to the unfolding developments at home, frame the pavilion not only as an exemplary project or even a manifest of the new Soviet Modernist Style but also as one attesting to the confusion reigning within the architectural scene.

Charlotte Rottiers is a Ph.D. researcher at the KU Leuven's Faculty of Architecture in Ghent, Belgium.

ISIE’s Free Online
Speakers Series:

'The Archaeology of Chicago’s 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition'
Dr. Rebecca S. Graff,
Associate Professor of Anthropology, Lake Forest College

28 Sept 2023, 6pm EDT /
29 Sept 2023, 8am AEST

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Lecture Description

Between May and October 1893, Chicago’s Jackson Park hosted 27 million tourists to the World’s Columbian Exposition, an event that brought the entire world together within a 600-acre park. The intentionally ephemeral Fair, with its over 200 buildings supported by a network of cutting-edge infrastructure, seemed too immense to materially disappear; yet it did. This talk draws from an archaeological and archival project focusing on the White City and Midway Plaisance of the 1893 Chicago Fair, which revealed the robust archaeological signature of its extensive sanitary infrastructure, the plaster remains of the Fair’s Ohio State Building, and bits of mundane domestic items that allow us to understand how the material destruction of the Fair was harnessed to further its ideological messages. A look at results from excavations at the 1892 Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Charnley House provides a contemporaneous domestic site to see how these messages were consumed at home. Rebecca S. Graff is Associate Professor of Anthropology at Lake Forest College and author of Disposing of Modernity: The Archaeology of Garbage and Consumerism During Chicago’s 1893 World’s Fair (University Press of Florida, 2020).

ISIE Speakers Series:
New Perspectives on National Pavilions at World Fairs
Lecture: 'Propelling Italy into a New Century: Fiat, International Expositions, and the Stile Liberty'
Dr. Peter Clericuzio
5 May 2023, 6pm EDT /
6 May 2023, 8am AEST

Fiat Expo

Lecture Description

In the wake of the widespread emergence of Art Nouveau as the favored style for many international expositions around 1900, its Italian variant, called the Stile Liberty among other names, was quickly adopted as a kind of corporate emblem by the nascent Turin-based automobile company Fiat (originally FIAT). Fiat employed the style in all aspects of its design over the next two decades, from its graphics in advertising and communication to its exposition stands to its first factory in Turin as well as the garages that it began building around the country. Fiat's liberal use of the Stile Liberty spurred the adoption of the style by many executives in the automotive and other industries, such as agriculture, shipping, textiles, utilities, and railways, who used it for pavilions and graphics at nearly all Italian expositions preceding World War I and even their own private residences. The association of the Stile Liberty on such a massive scale with critical sectors of the developing Italian economy thus ensured its unusual survival as an emblem of Italian modernity to rival Futurism until the advent of the Fascist era in the 1920s. Dr. Clericuzio has served as the MSc Programme Director, Architectural History & Theory at the University of Edinburgh and presented the paper “A Synecdoche of Empire: International Expositions and the Great Mosque of Djenné” at the 2022 ISIE Symposium.

ISIE’s Speakers Series:
New Perspectives on National Pavilions at World Fairs
Inaugural Lecture: 'National Pavilions for International Consumption:
Japan as Case Study'

Alice Y. Tseng
Boston University

26 January 2
023, 6pm EST
(27 January 2023, 8am JST)

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Lecture Description

As one of the most prolific participants in world’s fairs large and small starting in the 1860s up to 1940, Japan thrived on building national pavilions that repackaged historical models, types, and styles more so than offering original, up-to-date architecture. As a foreign participant rather than the host country, it played the role of Other in fact and metaphor. This presentation examines serial performances of ideas of a unified nation, culture, and race in Japan’s exhibition architecture. The variety, rather than coherence, of architectural representation during these decades demonstrates the plurality of sources and means for defining Japanese unity. The presentation’s coda offers a long look at Japanese national pavilion design since 1940 to today, noting continuing efforts to materialize Japanese culture, authenticity, and tradition writ large through architecture. The emphasis on producing explicitly “Japanese” architecture overseas and for an unknowing, possibly unsympathetic, audience is a problematic concept born of nineteenth-century exposition culture; nonetheless, to build a national pavilion in the politicized gathering of nations and peoples was and remains a powerful act of autonomy, no matter how mangled the expressions. 

ISIE’s Speakers Series:
New Perspectives on National Pavilions at World Fairs
Lecture: 'The Wild West Meets Rome: Architecture at the Trans-Mississippi & International Exposition'
Dr. Elizabeth Macaulay
City University of New York

27 February 2
023, 6pm EST
(28 February 2023, 8am JST)

Lecture Description

The “Trans-Mississippi” region, composed of 24 states and 2.6 square million miles of land, was initially conceived of and described the “Great American Desert,” not because of its fertile soil but because it was so sparely populated. This narrative gave way to one of settlement and progress as the region became home to white farmers, who displaced Native Americans. To many on the East Coast, Nebraska and the plains represented the West, agriculture, and the frontier; the region was unsophisticated and agrarian. Omaha (Nebraska), one of region’s leading cities, was selected to host the Trans-Mississippi and International Exposition in 1898. The Fair’s goal was to demonstrate that Omaha and the “Trans-Mississippi” region were economically important to the United States. This paper argues that the organizers of the fair looked primarily to Roman architecture, including triumphal arches and columnar facades, to create its main court and that the architecture was purposefully modeled on that of Chicago’s Court of Honor to demonstrate that Omaha was the equal of Chicago and New York.

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Lecture Description

Zoom around the globe with exposition scholar Lisa D. Schrenk to explore the architectural designs and building innovations that shaped the first 60 years of international expositions. These include advances in iron, glass, electricity, and aesthetics, all of which made possible the magnificent pavilions that covered the fairgrounds at these grand events. This lecture is co-sponsored by the Farm House Museum at the University of Iowa in connection with their exhibit World's Fairs, Expositions, and Centennial Celebrations of the Victorian Era (open February to October 2024) curated by the 2023 Pohlman Fellow Gracia Koele. Support for the lecture is provided by Carol Pletcher and the College of Architecture, Planning, and Landscape Architecture at the University of Arizona.

Lisa D. Schrenk, Ph.D. is Professor of Architectural History at the University of Arizona and a co-founder of ISIE. Her core research, which reassesses developments in modern architecture with focuses on Chicago, international expositions, and the early work of Frank Lloyd Wright, has been supported by grants from NEH and the Graham Foundation. Her book publications include The Oak Park Studio of Frank Lloyd Wright (UChicago) and Building a Century of Progress: The Architecture of Chicago’s 1933-34 World’s Fair (UMinnesota). She has served on the Board of Directors for the Society of Architectural Historians, as President of the Chicago Society of Architectural Historians, and been involved in Minnesota’s efforts to host a future world’s fair.

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