Expo ‘67’s Documentary Monuments: Applying Benedict Anderson’s Concept of the Museum to Expo ‘67’s Pavilions

By Marc Kosciejew.

Published by The International Journal of the Inclusive Museum

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Expo ’67 is considered the most successful international exposition in history because it brought together the nations of the world in order to create the first modern example of a peaceful and harmonious global village. It attained the highest level of international cooperation, breaking barriers between people as they earnestly worked together to create this spectacular occasion. It captured an inspirational spirit of openness and multicultural cooperation, demonstrating how much there is to gain by working together rather than working against one another; indeed, bitter enemies and warm friends alike joined forces to construct this extravaganza and transform a hopeful dream into a triumphant reality.

But how did Expo ’67 transform this dream into a reality? Expo ‘67’s spectacular pavilions helped to construct the idea of Expo ’67 as a multicultural place where peaceful international cooperation was possible. Because these pavilions were much more than avant-garde buildings; they were the representations of the nations, organizations, and interests that commissioned them. Or, as Benedict Anderson would argue, these pavilions were museums that helped ‘museumize’ the Expo ’67 identity, imagination, and experience.

This article therefore argues that, in order to understand Expo ’67, one must analyze the roles played by its pavilions. It presents a conceptual documentary framework in which to situate this discussion, arguing that these pavilions can be best understood as documents of monumental scale – or documentary monuments – that helped construct the physical reality of Expo ’67 and, most importantly, the idea of Expo ’67 as a multicultural success story. This article analyzes Anderson’s concept of the museum and the practicing of ‘museumizing’ – which, this article argues, can be replaced with the concept of the document and documentary practices – to demonstrate the power of documentary monuments. It applies Anderson’s concept to three of the biggest, most expensive, and most popular pavilions – the Canadian pavilion, the American pavilion, and the Soviet pavilion – in order to demonstrate the significance of documentary monuments in the construction of ideas and identities.

Keywords: Expo ‘67, Pavillions, Documentary Monuments, Documentation, Document, Documentary practices, Museum, Museumizing, Canada, America, Soviet, Benedict Anderson

International Journal of the Inclusive Museum, Volume 2, Issue 2, pp.69-80. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.154MB).

Marc Kosciejew

Marc Kosciejew, Doctoral Candidate, Faculty of Media and Information Studies, The University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada

Marc Kosciejew is a Doctoral Candidate in Library and Information Science (LIS) in the Faculty of Information and Media Studies (FIMS) at the University of Western Ontario (UWO). His doctoral research concentrates on the constitutive effects of documents and their associated documentary practices.

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