Turin World's Fair 1961

Italia '61
International Exposition on Labor

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Quick List Info

Turin Exhibition 1961

Dates Open - Open May 1 - October 31, 1961.

Attendance - 5,500,000.

International Participants - 24 nations and international participants; 19 and 22 nations have also been listed in other sources.

Total Cost - Not available.

Site Acreage - 50 hectares, 124 acres in the Corso Unita d'Italia with the main building, the Palace of Labour at the South end of the site used for the international exhibits.

Sanction and Type - Bureau of International Expositions Sanctioned Special Expo. Sanction date May 5, 1959. Would be considered a Registered Expo like those on the 5 year of each decade today.

Ticket Cost - Unknown.

Photo top center: Expo site of Turin 1961. Courtesy Pinterest. Column Top: Italia '61 Poster. Courtesy Pinterest. Column Bottom: Interior of the International exhibits at Italia '61, 1961, Paolo Monti. Courtesy Bibioteca Europea di Informazione e Culture via Wikipedica Commons.

Turin International Exhibition 1961

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History of the Event

Turin World's Fair 1961

Fifty years after the twin fifty year anniversary in Turin and Rome in 1911, Italy once again attempted to host the world in a special expo on a similar topic, Labor, plus an adjunct one hundred year anniversary of the unification of the Italian state.

It would, once again, be centered near the banks of the River Po between a new Labour Palace, two hundred and sixty thousand square feet, which held the international exhibits, and the Car Museum. Italian provinces would exhibit on the ground in between on the east side of the Corso Unita d'Italia (Lane of Italian Unity). The west side would hold a twelve thousand seat Palavela, an indoor arena meant to remain after the fair, which it did, and have lasting impact as the figure skating and short track speedskating venue at the 2006 Winter Olympic Games, although it had been significantly renovated for those games. The site was 1,800 meters long with public transportation by a monorail that sped between the North entrance near the Car Museum down to the Labour Palace. There was also an aerial tram over the river.

The Bureau of International Expositions had awarded Turin the fair two years earlier as an international expo of special qualities, that subject of Labour, which was to be held on a thirty hectare, seventy-four acre site. Twenty-four nations and international organizations participated. Italy would expand the event to include the one hundredth anniversary plus a flower show on additional land. Nineteen regions of Italy participated in the celebration of its unity. A third main exhibit centered on Italy's history in the Palazzo Corignanon building where the kingdom had been proclaimed. The international flower show was the largest ever held in Europe, located in Valentino Park, with displays in five exhibit halls, eleven acres large, and exhibits from nineteen nations. The entire flower show took thirty-five acres to display. Over 600,000 visitors attended.

Above photo. Exhibit showing the Centennial dates of 1861 and 1961 at the exposition, 1961, Paolo Monti. Courtesy Bibioteca Europea di Informazione e Culture via Wikipedica Commons. Below: Exhibits at Turin 1961 World Expo, 1961, Paolo Monti. Courtesy Bibioteca Europea di Informazione e Culture via Wikipedica Commons.

Turin International Exhibition 1961 Exhibits
The opening ceremonies were hosted by Italian President Gronchi and the international and national exhibition brought over five million people to the exhibits, amusements, and fireworks. It was a vibrant celebration of the special expo topic, but perhaps more so the one hundredth anniversary. It did not, however, turn a profit, losing $20 million, with much of the blame for that lack of success on the limited support from Rome. It did draw its share of important visitors eager to support the Rome government. The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh visited in May.

Participant Perspective

Ted Allen, President of the BIE - "Centenary of Italy, but North and South divide, and Rome's disinterest, led to brave flop. World Labour Organization (UN) developed theme of work, support by e.g. Fiat, Olivetti. Brave because nations were told to illustrate allocated sub-themes internationally, which they found difficult. An experiment never repeated. Fine building by England. VERY! poor attendance. Financial loss."

BIE Special Expo

Turin World's Fair 1961

International Participants
Nations and Colonies

Great Britain, United States, Soviet Union, France, Italy. Full list not available.

Note: It is sometimes difficult to tell whether certain nations or colonies actually participated in a significant way, either officially or unofficially. Newspaper reports as well as official publications may indicate participation when actual participation did not occur, occurred minimally, or can miss unofficial participation at all. Take the above as a guide, not gospel.

Expo Tidbits
Palace of Labour had sixteen columns that were twenty-six metres tall. It included exhibits for Italy in the center with the international participant exhibits around the perimeter.

The population of Turin in 1911 was around 1,000,000.

European Community mounted a joint exhibit called "Energy Sources."

United States exhibit focused on the progress of Communication.

One of the most popular exhibits was the Fiat Circarama by Walt Disney, held in a one thousand person theater with 360 degree film about Italian sites.

Those in Charge

Chairman of the Board of Directors was A. Mario Dogliotti. Chairman of the General Committee was Amedio Peyron. The Palace of Labour was designed by Luigi and Antonio Nervi. The Palavela indoor arena was designed by Franco Levi and Annibale and Giorgio Rigotti.

Sources: London Times; New York Times; Historical Dictionary of World's Fairs; Wikipedia Commons, Bureau of International Expositions, italia61.it.

Italia '61 Legacy

Legacies from the Expo
The Palace of Labour still remains, now being renovated into a commercial gallery. The North station for the monorail is a reception area for Regina Margherita Children's Hospital. The indoor arena, Palavela, remains, having served as the figure skating and short track speedskating venue at the 2006 Winter Olympic Games, and continues to host a variety of events. Its original cost was 110 million lire.

Palavela Arena

Photo column top: Monorail at Italia '61. Courtesy Wikipedia Commons. Middle: Legacy of the exposition, North Monorail Station, 2007, Mario Antonio Rossi. Courtesy Wikipedia Commons. Bottom: Palavela Arena during Expo 61 in Turin, 1961, Paolo Monti. Courtesy Bibioteca Europea di Informazione e Culture via Wikipedica Commons.

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