Barcelona Expo 1929

International Exhibition of Barcelona

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Quick List Info

Barcelona World's Fair 1929 Poster

Dates Open - May 20, 1929 to January 15, 1930. Open 241 days.

Attendance - 5,800,000 visitors.

International Participants - 29 international participants.

Total Cost - 130,000,000 pesetas (25,083,921). Financing by the city of Barcelona and Spanish state (10,000,000 pesetas). There were reports in the New York Times stating that the total cost was $40,000,000.

Site Acreage - 118 hectares (291 acres) on Montjuic.

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

Ticket Cost - Unavailable.

Photo top center: Panorama of the Barcelona International Exhibition, 1929, Records of the Bureau of Foreign and Domestic Commerce, National Archives and Records Administration. Courtesy Wikipedia Commons. Column Top: Official poster from the Barcelona 1929 World's Fair. Courtesy Wikipedia Commons. Column Bottom: Italian Pavilion, 1929, Grandas, M. Carmen (1988). L'Exposicio Internacional de Barcelona de 1929. Courtesy Wikipedia Commons.

Barcelona International Exhibition 1929, Italy Pavilion

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History of the Event

Poster of Barcelona 1929 Exposition

Yes, the larger twin to the Seville Ibero-American, the Barclona Exposition was held on the impressive hillside site of Montjuic with one thousand seven hundred and fourteen exhibitors and one hundred and twenty-nine thousand exhibits. Its symbol, the National Palace, had an exhibition of Spanish Art. There was a Spanish Village, German pavilion, which remains, reconstructed in 1979, by Mies van de Rohe, and drew significantly more visitors than its Seville counterpart. Officially its theme focused on industry, Spanish art, and sport. Barcelona was an experienced expo city, having hosted a previous World's Fair in 1888.

While the Seville event focused on the Iberian peninsula's relationship with its former colonies in the Americas, Barcelona tilted toward commerce and industry of the entire world. Fourteen European nations exhibited. Humongous water displays splashed their way about the site. There was a sports stadium that could seat sixty thousand and would host the world again in the 1992 Summer Olympic Games. It was a hilly site. The mountain railway became a necessary and well used mode of tranporation taking visitors from the main gate at the bottom to the third zone at the top.

Above photo. Poster of the Barcelona Exposition, 1929. Courtesy Pinterest. Bottom: Poster for the twin Seville and Barcelona fairs, the Exposition Generale Espagnole, 1929. Courtesy Pinterest.

Barcelona Expo 1929
The buildings were spectacular with the National Palace, its largest, dedicated to culture. There was a Festival Hall which had a capacity of twenty thousand. The Spanish Village, one of the most popular exhibits at the fair, was twenty thousand square meters in size and contained replicas of over three hundred structures. The Fine Arts Museum was a remnant of the 1888 Barcelona Exposition. Other structures emblematic to the city were also constructed; Palau Nacional de Catalunya, the Montjuic Magic Fountain, the Teatre Grec, and the Poble Espanyol.

The Barcelona exposition gets more praise than its counterpart, with both gaining remarkable legacy structures and improvements in their cities. However, the fair itself was not particularly successful. There were press complaints of hotel price gouging in the city, some double their cost. Other reports note a Spanish deficit of 140 million pesetas, likely not all from the fair, however, but possible. It was hurt by the New York Stock Market crash and in the end, Primo de Rivera and the Barcelona Mayor, Baron de Vivar, would resign.

Prior to BIE Sanction

Barcelona 1929 Exposition Poster

International Participants
Nations and Colonies

Spain, Germany, Belgium, Denmark, France, Hungary, Italy, Norway, Rumania, Switzerland, Yugoslavia (State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs), Japan (unofficial private), United States (unofficial private), Great Britain (unofficial private), Sweden, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Finland, Netherlands (unofficial private), Portugal (unofficial private) .

Nations with their own buildings included Spain, Germany, Belgium, Denmark, France, Hungary, Italy, Norway, Romania, Switzerland.

Private pavilions included Pavilion of the Barcelona Bank Savings and Pensions, Pavilion of the Compania General de Tabacos de Filipinas, German Electricity Supply Pavilion, Can Jorba, Pavilion of the Hydrographic Confederation of Ebro, Pavilion of the Hispano-Suiza Company, Artists' Gathering Pavilion.

Note: It is sometimes difficult to tell whether certain nations actually participated in a significant way. It is said that twenty of the European nations had official displays with others represented by private exhibitors. The Bureau of International Expositions states that there were 29 international participants. Take the above as a guide, not gospel.

Expo Tidbits
The opening ceremony included the Prime Minister, Don Miguel Primo de Rivero, and two to three hundred thousand visitors. It was held in the Festival Hall and National Palace.

There were theme pavilions including the Decorative Arts, Graphic Arts, Communications and Transports, Construction Industry, Electricity, Alphonse XIII, Sports, Cinema and Photography, Textile Arts, Travel, and five pavilions on the topic of Agriculture. There were ten pavilions dedicated to Spain.

The exhibition buildings had 1,183,000 square meters of space.

After the Barcelona fair closed as an international exposition on January 15, it remained open as a National Exposition for six months.

Montjuic remains with structures from the fair including the Olympic Stadium and reconstructed German pavilion. The Spanish Village is still there, the only remaining village from a past world's fair. Palau Nacional de Catalunya, the Montjuic Magic Fountain, Palace of Graphic Arts, Palace of Agriculture, and the Teatre Grec also remain as well as the Pavilion of the Barcelona Bank Savings and Pensions and the Pavilion of the Compania General de Tabacos de Filipinas. Other expo structures also remain changed to new uses.

Barcelona's Olympic Stadium, 2008.

Those in Charge
Patron was King Alphonso XIII. Executive committee chairman was Marques de Foronda. Honorary committee chairman was the Mayor of Barcelona. Royal Commissioner General was Albert Henri Marie de Bourbon e de Catellvi. Architects were Pedro Domenech, Josep Puig y Cadafalch, Lluis Domenech y Montaner. Manuel de Alvarez-Cuevas y Olivella was President of the Organizing Committee.

Sources: New York Times; London Times; "Exposicion Internacional de Barcelona 1929" by Ludger Derenthal and Andrea Lesjak; Fair News; World's Fair Magazine; Wikipedia Commons; Bureau of International Expositions; Ephemeral Vistas; Les Fastes du Progres; La Page Francophone des Expositions Universelles de Jacques Bertrand.

Photo column top: Poster from the Barcelona International Exposition, 1929, Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya. Courtesy Pinterest. Middle: Barcelona's Olympic Stadium, 2008. Courtesy Wikipedia Commons.

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