The year before a world’s fair opens is always an interesting time. There’s much anticipation about the event, but the public’s not quite sure what to expect. A recent survey shows this to be true in Dubai as they prepare for Expo 2020’s opening.
I’ve seen this many times in countries who are hosting a world’s fair for the first time... or the first time in a long while. Unlike the Olympics or the World Cup, the other two large international events, people don’t have a frame of reference as to what a contemporary world’s fair is like. They’re not like historical ones that many Americans are familiar with and they’re certainly not like Epcot, with just elevent countries being presented. Interestingly, I’ve even seen this uncertainly within the organizations themselves. Few people have a sense of the greater event outside their own particular project.
World’s fairs are grand experiments in how we want the world to be. They’re laboratories showing us what “progress” means at any given point in history. I’m sure many readers have been to theme parks where the rest of the world outside the gates tends to magically disappear. This phenomenon happens at world’s fairs, too. We create the world we want based on human ideals.
They even change and evolve during their runs... and become a part of a community’s psyche and infrastructure. They become true expressions of our hopes and dreams of a particular year. In Minnesota’s case, 2027 could be that year. Contemporary world’s fairs aren’t about things anymore, but more about ideas.
It’s my hope that Minnesota will win the right to host Expo 2027 and the United States will once again be able to bring the best of the world to one location to take stock and share our dreams for the future.