- World's Fair of 1897
- National pride spurred government officials to hold a world's fair at Brussels in 1897 to showcase the international economic prowess of Belgium, which ranked fifth among the world's nations in volume of foreign commerce.Located in the Parc du Cinquantenaire, the Exposition Internationale de Bruxelles also featured a colonial affairs exhibition in Ter-vuren that served as the foundation for the Musée royal de l'Afrique centrale (Royal Museum of Central Africa). Torrential rains delayed construction and forced postponement of the opening date from 24 April to 10 May. For several weeks thereafter the fair remained unfinished with no water in the ornamental fountains and electrical lighting, a novel feature, incomplete.The fair featured over 10,000 exhibits from 30 nations, of which 22 were represented officially. There were approximately 3,000 exhibits from France, the largest foreign participant. Similar to 1888, a competition was offered by the Belgian government in which prize money was offered for answers to some 400 questions posed in seeking solutions to problems relating to exhibits. They ranged from the social, such as an educational program to prevent alcohol abuse among students, to the technical, such as a system of frostproof water hydrants for use on highways.Popular features of the exhibition included the Brussels kermesse, a reconstruction of the old city replete with a 14th-century wall, a Renaissance-style gate designed by Paul Saintenoy, and reproductions of three famous city fountains—the Manneken-Pis, the Spitter (le Cracheur), and the Three Virgins (les Trois Pucelles). The Congo Free State, a personal possession of King Leopold II, featured a model native village, and an alpine exhibit employed special technical effects to allow visitors to experience an actual mountain excursion.The fair closed on 8 November after having attracted some 6 million visitors.
Historical Dictionary of Brussels. Paul F. State.