Barcelona Expo 1888

Exposicion Universal de Barcelona

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Quick List Info

Barcelona World's Fair 1888 Poster

Dates Open - Open April 8 to December 10, 1888. Official inauguration May 20. Duration 246 days.

Attendance - 2.24 million visitors, of which 600,000 entered free. Other sources list 1,227,000 as the paid attendance.

International Participants - 27 nations and 4 plus colonies.

Total Cost - Cost of exposition 8.5 million pesetas ($1.7 million). Receipts (Admission and Concessions) were 2 million pesetas. Deficit of 6.5-7 million pesetas.

Site Acreage - 46.5 hectares (115 acres) in Ciudadela Park.

Sanction and Type - Prior to sanctioning by the Bureau of International Expositions. Would be considered a (Registered) Expo today like those 5 year of the decade.

Ticket Cost - 20 cents. 1 peseta per day, 25 pesetas for season ticket.

Photo top center: General view of the Universal Exposition, 1888, La Exposicion Official Diary. Courtesy Wikipedia Commons. Column Top: Official poster from the Barcelona 1888 World's Fair, April 1888, Official Diary of the Expo, Josep Lluis Pellicer. Courtesy Wikipedia Commons. Column Bottom: Map of the Universal Exposition, 1888, likely Expo Authority. Courtesy Pinterest.

Barcelona Universal Exposition of 1888 Map

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History of the Event

Poster of Barcelona 1929 Exposition

They were competing against the world in 1888, but Barcelona, and Spain, wanted to join the expo world and host one of their own. During that year, there were international type expos in Glasgow, Melbourne, and Cincinnati, plus a smaller event in Copenhagen. Barcelona did not back down, creating a unique environment that included an arched cast-iron pavilion and fountain called the Umbracle designed by Josep Fontsere. Antoni Gaudi built the Pabellon de la Compania Trasatlantica. It had a seventeen acre Palace of Industry housing the international exhibits in twenty-four naves, plus a Palace of Fine Arts and Hall of Colonies. There were more than sixty buildings in all and the fair site was connected to the sea where the marine exhibits were located.

There were theme pavilions devoted to maritime, mines, the royals, Spanish colonies, plus a Palais de l'Industrie and Commerce, Gallery of Machines, Palais de Beaux-Arts, Pailais des Sciences, Palais de Agriculture, and Musee des Arts retrospectifs.

The infant King Alfonso XIII and his mother Maria Christina opened the fair officially on May 20, 1888 after a postponement from 1887. The ambassadors of England, France, Germany, Austria-Hungary, Italy, and the Ministers of Belgium, Turkey, Russia, Portugal, Mexico, and Brazil were there. Ten thousand visitors attended. It was not in a complete state.

Above photo. Drawing of the Barcelona Exposition, 1888. Courtesy Pinterest. Bottom: General plans and designs of construction, 1888. Courtesy Wikipedia Commons.

Barcelona Expo 1888
One thing you can say about Spanish World's Fairs, and you could certainly state this about Barcelona in 1888, they know how to put on a spectacular show. However, they don't know how to budget. The fair lost so much money, up to seven million pesetas, that if affected the operation of Barcelona for years. But when it became time for them to host another, in 1929, they readily did it again, put on a spectacular show, and lost money.

Prior to BIE Sanction

Trimphal Arch, Barcelona 1888 Exposition

International Participants
Nations and Colonies

National - Germany 242, Austria 252, Belgium 345, Denmark 6, France 1,111, Great Britain 148, Hungary 56, Italy 148, Norway 32, Netherlands 11, Curacao 30 (COL), Russia 66, Sweden 32, Switzerland 32, Argentina 5, Bolivia 2, Chili 8, Columbia 1, Ecuador 31, Honduras 1, Jamaica 1 (COL), Mexico 1, Paraguay 35, Uruguay 225, United States 89, North American Colony 2, Turkey 65, China 17, Japan 160.

Spain and her colonies.

Note: It is sometimes difficult to tell whether certain nations actually participated in a significant way. Nations or Colonies above listed from Les Festes de Progres with number of exhibits. Take the above as a guide, not gospel.

Expo Tidbits
There was a large monument to Columbus, 197 feet high. It's still there.

The population of Barcelona in 1888 was 400,000.

The United States Senate appropriated $200,000 for their participation.

The Arch of Triumph, the Umbracle, fountains and small ponds, the Castle of the Three Dragons which housed the World's Fair cafe, the Columbus Monument, a few other buildings, and the Parc de la Ciutadella remain.

Triumphal Arch, Barcelona

Those in Charge
Alcade of Barcelona was president of the exhibition.

Sources: New York Times; London Times; The City of Marvels (La Ciudad de los Prodigios), Eduardo Mendoza ; Fair News; World's Fair Magazine; Wikipedia Commons; Bureau of International Expositions; Les Fastes du Progres.

Photo column top: Triumphal Arch, entrance to the Barcelona fair in 1888 designed by Josep Vilaseca i Casanovas, 1888. Courtesy Pinterest. Middle: Triumphal Arch today, 2006. Courtesy Wikipedia Commons.

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