O U N D A T I O N   E X P O  ' 8 8
Progressing the World Expo '88 Vision
- A non-government not-for-profit entity celebrating Brisbane's World Expo '88 -

Return to Table of Contents


World Expo 88 Collection Significance Statement

World Expo 88 was held from April 30 to October 30, 1988, in the capital of the State of Queensland, Brisbane, as an officially sanctioned event of the Bureau of International Expositions, Paris, and was the largest event of Australia's bi-centennial year.

It was the only World Exposition to be held in Australia in the 20th Century and featured 86
pavilions - 36 international governments, 14 regional/state level participants, 46 corporations, and 2 multi-lateral organisations - the European Economic Community, and the United Nations.

The $AUD 625 million event attracted 18 million visitors - just over the total population of
 Australia at the time.

In particular, World Expo 88 holds a special place in Brisbane history, as a major international landmark event, that, along with the successful hosting of the XIIth Commonwealth Games in 1982, came to transform the sleepy country town image of the city into one of Australia's premier capitals.

Under the banner of a colourful Exposition logo, and the Exposition mascot, the Australian
platypus 'Expo Oz', the 1988 World Exposition is particularly remembered for it's large iconic tensile sun-sails that soared high above the exposition site space; it's beautiful riverside setting on the banks of the Brisbane River; it's extensive 'cutting-edge' public art collection, featuring many works especially commissioned for the exposition; the varied and immensely popular theatre entertainment, showcasing the best of world talent in the performing, circus, and marching band arts; and the numerous humourous street theatre performers who cajoled the spirits of those visiting or those waiting in lines. It was known, as cited by the CEO and Chair of the World Expo 88 Authority, Sir Llew Edwards, AC, as 'the happiest place on earth in 1988', and, as an event officially opened by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, was an event of great joy and circumstance for the people of Brisbane.

Furthermore, at the conclusion of the Exposition, the Expo left Brisbane residents with
heightened expectations of a greater international, cosmopolitan and amenable city, involving -

(i) development and maintenance of the popular and very successful South Bank Parklands, on
the former expo site - one of the most visited parks in the State, featuring an extensive artificial salt water beach and rockpools, a wide variety of restaurants and cafes, as well as host of the South Bank Markets on Fridays and Saturdays;

(ii) Transformation of the city's retail laws - enabling late night and Saturday/Sunday trading;

(iii) creation of a new events-based Queensland Government corporation to promote and attract
international class events to Queensland, and;

(iv) incorporation of many of the Exposition sculpture and artworks into the City's arcades and

As a 1988 Brisbane world-class event the Exposition also left smaller reminders to us of the
popular culture engendered and transmitted during the Expo, in the forms of:

(a) World Expo 88 Official souvenirs such as Guide Books, maps, posters, postcards,
documentaries, hats, clothing, pins, daily program guides;

(b) World Expo 88 & International/Corporate Pavilion Staff uniforms and badges;

(c) International/Corporate Pavilion ephemera in the forms of Expo Passport stamps, pins,
pamphlets, souvenirs, restaurant menus, and other items;

(d) Miscellaneous items such as personal photographs, newspaper cuttings, diary entries from
visits to the Exposition, and so forth. 

These items provide a concise and unique snapshot into 1988 Brisbane and the 1988 World
Exposition - items that today can only be procured through donation, by advertising for collection items, searching the weekend papers and Personal Trading Post, or bidding for them on the internet through auction sites such as eBay.

They cannot be purchased new from the Exposition Authority, as the shops no longer exist, nor
 do other souvenir shops in the city of Brisbane carry such stock. However, as a widely cherished event of the people of Brisbane, the host city, it is highly likely that Brisbane is the highest candidate for private collections of World Expo 88 memorabilia, whether that be in the form of private photographs; a haphazard collection of pavilion pamphlets and pins; and/or a box in the garage of the Exposition Guide Book and newspaper cuttings from the event.

Interstate Australia, home of other visitors to the Exposition, is likely to be the next possible source of such memorabilia, and lastly, there is bound to be a small collection of items in private collectors internationally, as can be noted in the occasional international listing for 'Expo 88' on eBay.

Official Government collections of Expo 88 memorabilia vary from the Queensland State
Archives Office, to the Office of Premier & Cabinet, to the Queensland and Brisbane Museums. These items are professionally catalogued and stored, however, due to space and 'Freedom of Information' restrictions, are not displayed nor able to be viewed by the public in person or via the internet.

Whilst several regional Australian galleries have collections of various International Pavilion
exhibits as part of their own Science or Social exhibitions, there is, however, no known dedicated public viewing space of World Expo 88-related popular culture items in the form of a temporary or permanent World Expo 88 Commemorative Exhibition in Australia or internationally.

The objective of a Foundation Expo 88 Collection is therefore clear:

(i) To develop and maintain a representative collection of World Expo 88 ephemera in a
sustainable, environment-conscious condition, in a manner in which the items can be viewed over the internet via the Foundation web-site, or, by individual personal written request to the Foundation Director.  

(ii) To work towards a permanent commemorative exhibition space for World Expo '88 located in
 the host city, Brisbane, either on the former Expo site, the now South Bank Parklands, or, nearby.

(iii) To promote awareness and understanding of the 1988 World Exposition and it's lasting
historical and cultural heritage in a local, state and international context.

If you wish to take part in this process, or if you would like any further information regarding the Collection Significance Statement or Collection Policy, please do not hesitate to contact me personally via e-mail executivedirector@celebrate88.com, SMS/Mobile +61417 (0417) 434105, or via post to the Executive Director, Foundation Expo '88, 135 Keats Street Moorooka Brisbane Qld 4105 Australia.