The first exhibition took place in 1751 in London, and two subsequent ones in 1798 and 1802 in Paris. Nevertheless, the Great Exhibition in London in 1851 is considered as the first truly international exhibition. From this time, 71 expos have taken place so far.
The EXPO exhibitions are an international stage on which countries present themselves, participate in discussions, and compete at the same time. It is here that they demonstrate, in a creative and universal manner, their economic and cultural transformations, directions for development, plans and ambitions. This lively and multi-thread exchange of ideas at EXPO, lasting for several months, leaves behind not only material symbols, such as the Eiffel Tower (EXPO 1889) or the Atomium in Brussels (EXPO 1958), but it has long-lasting economic and image-related effects.
Today, more than 160 years after the Great Exhibition in 1851 in London, the “EXPO stage” is becoming broader, trespassing the physical “here and now”. The participants of EXPO, create national expositions and at the same time build a narrative in the virtual world, which reaches millions of people worldwide. The World EXPO 2017 will take place for the first time in Kazakhstan in its capital – Astana.
Two previous editions of International EXPO took place in Milan and Shanghai. The main organiser of Polish participation in these Exhibitions was the Polish Agency for Enterprise Development (PARP).
In Shanghai as well as in Milan, the exposition prepared by PARP met with a vivid interest of visitors – the Polish Pavilions on EXPO were visited by a record number of people (in Shanghai over 8 million!). Polish expositions were accompanied by a broad promotion programme of Poland, combining cultural and economic elements, and promoting Polish regions and towns.
The Chinese organisers of the World Exhibition awarded a silver medal to Poland for the programme creativity and adherence to the main theme of the EXPO – Better City, Better Life. The Polish programme of promotion – mostly economic – got recognition of opinion-forming Chinese media (1157 Chinese journalists visited the Polish Pavilion during the EXPO, and in Chinese media there were around 600 articles about the Polish pavilion and our presentation at EXPO). On 15 November 2010, during “2010 CBN Marketing Awards for Expo 2010 Shanghai China”, Poland received a prestigious award in the category: “Best Promotion of the Country”, Shanghai Expo 2010.
The presence of Poland at World EXPO 2015 in Milan was also very intense. Poland, as one of the few participants, prepared a complex and dynamic presentation of the country, based on the permanent exhibition and regional presentations changing cyclically. The Polish Pavilion was visited by twice as many guests as originally estimated. Regional presentations, thematic conferences, culinary shows and cultural events were accompanied by a multi-faceted economic programme, including, i.a., 5 national stands at trade fairs in Italy, 9 cooperation exchange events, 5 culinary shows, scientific conferences, networking meetings, and shopping missions. The effect of those activities was more than 1000 meetings between Polish and Italian entrepreneurs.