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1904 St. Louis as depicted at Expo 2012's Expos x Expos Exhibit


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There were many moments I had to slap my forehead when going through the Expos x Expos exhibit at Expo 2012. I’m very sad to report that there were many, MANY inaccuracies and missed opportunities with the exhibit. Going through my photos, I have several examples, but this one really saddened me.

In the 1904 Saint Louis section, this photo as shown to illustrate that the ice cream cone was invented (or introduced, depending on who you ask) at the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition. If you ask any historian of the 1904 World’s Fair, you’ll discover that no one’s really quite clear on HOW the ice cream cone was invented… and they aren’t really sure WHO did it. It’s the subject of much debate.

The photo is clearly not from 1904 and doesn’t match the style of design you would expect from the real 1904. To me, it looked more like that retro turn-of-the-century of 1920’s look that was popular in 1970’s chain restaurants.

A quick search online for “Original 1904 World’s Fair Ice Cream Emporium” brings up entries that show that it was a Missouri business that dissolved in 1981. I somehow imagine if there was a 77-year-old ice cream business in St. Louis, there wouldn’t be so much confusion about the origin of the ice cream cone.

I’m going to try to find out more about this business, but clearly the photo has absolutely no relation to the 1904 World’s Fair. Would anyone here know of this business?

It’s just one example, sadly, of an exhibit that was created to fill space to show a timeline of world expos… without really wanting to import any real impressions or information.

My understanding is that the exhibit was created by a Chinese group and translated into Korean for Expo 2012. Sadly, the Expo 2010 World Expo Museum had many of these same mistakes.

Here are some other photos depicting 1904:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/expomuseum/7908737510/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/expomuseum/7908738912/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/expomuseum/7908740652/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/expomuseum/7836291502/

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Posted · Report post

That first image of the ice cream cone story board is interesting but I have to ask: where WAS this exhibit? Who ever approved the phrase "but cups was running out" and when did Nancy Johnson become a "he"?

Also, when did all world's fairs become "expos"? I don't really remember the 1958 Fair in Brussels but I have seen it referred to as Expo 58 but have never seen confirmation it was actually called this at the time. In any case, Expo 67 was the first major fair I recall that dubbed itself in that terminology. Planners balked at the name Montreal World's Fair and Expo sounded rather cool in 1967. But when did all fairs become expos? That term just doesn't seem scholarly nor historically accurate. In the days of the great expositions they had powerful and prideful names: World's Columbian, Pan American, Lousiana Purchase, Panama Pacific, Century of Progress and the like.

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Posted · Report post

They were always expositions, except in America.

Shorting 'Exposition' to 'Expo' was one of those mod things that became popular in the 60's- seemingly everything had to go by a shortened name to be 'cool'.

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Posted · Report post

Yeah, I figured that was the case, but for a supposedly scholarly exhibition, using the term expo in an exhibition display (unless it was actually entitled Expo) lowers the tone. Any idea of why that story board is so strange? Where was this display? I keep thinking of poor Nancy Johnson becoming a "he." Yikes.

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The Brussels World's Fair was commonly referred to as Expo 58 in Europe but rarely if ever in the U.S. The Expo 67 organizers insisted the media never use the term "world's fair" in association with the Montreal Universal and International Exposition of 1967 because they in no way, shape or form wanted any name association with the New York World's Fair.

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