Colombia through the history of International Expositions
Since José Jerónimo Triana led the way to show Colombian products and registers at the International Exposition of Paris in 1867, Colombia has gained more spaces at international fairs. At this first edition, Colombia’s participation was not official, and Mr. Triana had to manage the space for his ecological, botanical and archaeological exposition, through the Central American Committee and the delegate from Ecuador.
Included the one of 1867, Colombia has participated in 9 international fairs, all recognized by the Bureau International des Expositions -BIE-, three of which were non-official representations, at the expense of José Jerónimo Triana (Paris 1867, 1878 and 1889). The first official participation was the Colombian Expostion at Chicago in 1892, whose main topic was the celebration of a new centenary of the discovery of America. For the first time, an exclusive pavilion was assigned to Colombia, and it basically hosted archaeological pieces.
Expositions in the XX century
Colombia's pavilion entrance Expo Sevilla 1929.
Photo: Juan Jose Cabrero / Personal file
The next Universal Exposition the country attended was Osaka 1970. For this particular event, the pavilion was designed by Master Omar Rayo, and the main protagonist was national coffee, which is well renowned in the Asian market since then. After Osaka’s Expo, Seville 1992 came along, which principal topic was, again, the new centenary of the discovery of America; then, Hannover 2000, where Colombia shined twice over: not only because of the success of Daniel Bonilla’s designed pavilion and the exhibition of the golden treasures from the Gold Museum, but also because of the recognition made to Colombian architect Simón Vélez, due to his work at the ZERI pavilion, a well recognized sustainable-projects’ NGO.
The most recent participation was at Shanghai 2010. Colombian pavilion was the biggest –so far- that the country ever held for this kind of events. With more than 3 million visitants, many important commercial agreements were signed, as well as cooperation arrangements between the private sector and Chinese public sector. The Colombian-Chinese Chamber was created, and it counted on 108 registered entities by 2013 and more than 12 convention signed between Colombian and Chinese organizations; moreover, $20.5 million-worth international cooperation agreements were signed and 3 processes of town twining were held.
However, those are not the only reasons for Colombia to participate at international fairs: Colombia also participated at specialized international fairs, which last for a short period of time and focus on a very exact topic. Among them, the Ibero-American Exposition of Seville 1929 stands out, not only because this fair took place the same year than the Universal Exposition of Barcelona, in which Colombia declined to participate, but also because Colombia held for the first time, in addition to its pavilion, a special stand dedicated to coffee-related products.
Recent Colombia’s participations at international expositions focused on the importance of water resources. Among others, we can highlight Lisbon 1998, in which Colombia showed itself as the “3 Oceans Nation”, and it presented a sample of archaeological sea-related pieces; Zaragoza 2008, where the Colombian delegation was led by the Natural Parks Delegation and it had the purpose of defending water as a unique resource of the country.
The most recent participation was at Japan, Yesou 2012, which central topic was again the protection of the oceans. Colombia’s stand tried to highlight the significance of its natural patrimony, primarily Malpelo Island in the Pacific Ocean. Besides, the exposition emphasized the Colombian inter-oceanic potential and it sought the development of projects in order to handle sea resources and to improve of the navy forces.
Here's a look of Colombian participation in Expo Osaka 1960: