Expo Unit - World's Fairs
The Department of State is responsible for U.S. participation in international exhibitions. The Department’s Expo Unit in the Office of the Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs manages U.S. engagement with the Bureau of International Expositions (BIE), organizes U.S. participation at overseas Expos (also known as World’s Fairs), and mobilizes international support for U.S. candidacies to host Expos. The United States rejoined the BIE in 2017 following passage of bipartisan legislation H.R. 534 (U.S. Wants to Compete for a World Expo Act) signed into law by President Trump (P.L. 115-32).
Previous USA Pavilions at BIE-Sanctioned Expos
|Astana Expo 2017 (U.S. Commissioner General’s Report – USA Pavilion Website - Overview Video)
Milan Expo 2015 (U.S. Commissioner General’s Report – Archived Website)
Yeosu Expo 2012 (U.S. Commissioner General’s Report – Overview Video)
Shanghai Expo 2010 (U.S. Commissioner General’s Report – Archived Website)
Aichi Expo 2005 (U.S. Commissioner General's Report)
Expos are an excellent, cost-effective platform to promote commercial and public diplomacy objectives reaching millions of people in-person and millions more through traditional and social media. Deputy Secretary Sullivan spoke about Expos and World’s Fairs at the 2017 BIE General Assembly in support of the Minnesota Expo 2023 bid.
The United States has had national pavilions at every overseas Expo since 1851 with the exception of two, and hosted a dozen World’s Fairs (the last was New Orleans in 1984).
U.S. Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai, United Arab Emirates (October 2020 – April 2021)
The six-month long Expo 2020 Dubai will be the first Expo to take place in the Middle East, North Africa, or South Asia and is expected to attract 25 million visitors; 7 million of whom may visit the U.S. pavilion. The event coincides with the UAE’s 50th founding anniversary.
The theme of Expo 2020 Dubai is Connecting Minds, Creating the Future, representing the potential of what can be achieved when meaningful collaborations and partnerships are forged. The Expo’s subthemes are Opportunity, Mobility, and Sustainability. The USA Pavilion will emphasize the “Mobility” sub-theme, and the pavilion’s architecture and interior design will communicate American progress, ingenuity, and innovation in social, physical, and mechanical mobility in commerce and the arts.
On February 16, 2018 the Department published a Request for Proposal in the Federal Register (#2018-03116) for the fundraising, project management, design, construction, operation, and disassembly and removal of a USA Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai. (Media Note)
Please consult the RFP Frequently Asked Questions (updated April 13, 2018), Expo 2020 Theme Guide, Participant Guide, and Self-build Guide when preparing proposals. RFP submissions are due by Tuesday, April 17, 2018.
In March 2018 the Expo Unit held a series of virtual and in-person information sessions (Washington, DC; NYC; Houston; Detroit; San Francisco; and Palo Alto) to highlight the opportunities for business, civic, and community leaders to participate in and support the U.S. pavilion. (See RFP Roadshow Flyer)
On June 5, 2018 the Acting Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs announced the Department’s intent to partner with the Big Things Group for the USA pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai. (See media note and video).
Bringing the World’s Fair Back to the United States
Cities and states can serve as partners for the U.S. pavilion or even bid to host a World’s Fair themselves. In 2017, the U.S. candidate to host the 2023 Expo was Minnesota. Unfortunately, the United States lost its first bid to host a World’s Fair in 40 years to Argentina (Expo 2023). The next opportunity to host an Expo will be 2027/28 or 2030.
Contact the Expo Unit