Monday, November 22, 2021

Universal and International Exhibition 1958 stamp

This 3¢ stamp (US #1104) was issued on April 17, 1958, in Detroit, Michigan. It was printed by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. It was designed by Bradbury Thompson.

Here is a video of the 1958 Brussels Universal and International Exhibition.

The Brussels Universal and International Exhibition was held in Brussels, Belgium and it was the first World’s Fair to be held after WWII. It was also the first fair to be held during the Cold War Era. The stamp features the US Pavilion.

This was the eleventh time that Belgium had hosted the World’s Fair and it was the fifth time it was held in Brussels. It covered 490 acres and took 15,000 workers to build the fair. They were able to reuse some of the buildings from the 1935 exposition since it was held in the same place.

This Expo was intended to help the world look to a brighter future and the 51 countries participating were encouraged to showcase their best technological advancements. Each country built its own pavilion. The theme structure of the Expo, the Atomium, is still open to visitors and it is constructed of nine connected metal spheres. It is a massive building that looked like the cell of an iron crystal that had been enlarged 165 billion times.

The America pavilion consisted of displays about the American Way of Life including color TVS, ice cream, Coca-Cola, a fashion show, an electronic computer, and a piece by the Seventh Army Symphony Orchestra. The pavilion was made up of four buildings.

The Soviet pavilion which was right next to the American pavilion featured a huge statue of Lenin and replicas of the Sputnik satellites.

The Congolese exhibit was a human zoo where 700 Congolese people were displayed behind an armed guard. This was a very controversial exhibit and many of the Congolese didn’t like the way they were treated and wanted to go home.

During this time, the world’s first universal film poll was held and film critics nominated films and voted on them. Citizen Kane (one of my favorite movies) was one of those chosen.

The Expo lasted for six months and had over 41 million visitors.

Class Activities:
  1. Research other World’s Fairs and Expositions. Pick one and share the highlights of the event.
  2. Share the history of televisions, ice cream, Coca-Cola, or computers.
  3. Make a model of the Atomium.
  4. What was the Cold War and why did it cause tensions between the US and the Soviet Union?
  5. What were the results of the first universal film poll? Give a summary of the top 5 films.

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