Expo 88 opened up world of opportunities for us all

APN video journalist David Stuart takes a trip down memory lane to Expo 88.

"FOR many there are two Brisbanes; one before Expo 88 and the more confident one that emerged out of it.”"

That’'s how Museum of Brisbane director Peter Denham sums up the past quarter of a century.

For me personally, I can honestly say that there was the David before Expo 88 and the David that emerged out of it keen as mustard to explore the wider world with an insatiable appetite to see the future emerge.

I remember visiting the pavilions from each country and having my mind blown.

Seeing the mini ski-slope at the Swiss pavilion was as good as seeing real snow for me at the time.

And the Japanese robot stamping my three-day pass -– we were not rich enough to get season passes –- offered me a glimpse of the future without revealing that future David would later spend a significant chunk of his youth in Japan.

My father, an acupuncturist at Expo, took me along to meet one of the high divers he was treating at the Aquacade.

Sheldon was the coolest person I had met -– he could do backflips from a standing position and, being Canadian, he spoke with a North American accent.

He invited my brother and I to swim in the twin pools between shows and he even turned on the bubbles so we wouldn'’t get hurt jumping from the four-metre diving boards.

Fortunately we were not expected to jump from the 30 metre towers.

These Aquacade sessions spurred a deep love for the diving and, with Sheldon as my coach, I eventually went on to win a bronze medal in the one metre springboard event at the Queensland titles.

Naturally, when I learned that the Museum of Brisbane was running an Expo 88 exhibition, I knew I had to see it.

Being a video-journalist I knew that I could get an early look at the exhibition under the guise of covering it.

While the exhibition showcases some general Expo 88 paraphernalia the main focus is reserved for the daytime and night parades.

As I walked into the main entrance I was greeting by a smiling Expo Oz.

The platypus mascot, Peter told me, was designed by Disney and could easily pass for a relative of Donald Duck.

A display case holds Expo promotional goods that range from a special-issue number plate to an ashtray.

Numerous screens play through the scenes of the parades and the people in the crowds sport late-eighties fashions.

Sketches of costume and float designs also sit safely behind glass and mannequins wear some of the original costumes.

But, the highlight for me was the 3D printing of the floats on a miniature scale.

Peter said he found the original floats of the echidna and the frilled neck lizard and wanted to display them.

“"They still exist at a roadhouse in the middle of the Northern Territory,"” he said.

"“But (were) a bit large and cumbersome to actually get into the museum.” Instead, the floats, that included a tasty-looking array of snacks on the backs of ants, were recreated with a new technology; 3D printing."

And it is exactly that new technology that emphasises that 25 years have passed since Expo came to Brisbane and changed, no doubt, not just my own life but the lives of many Queenslanders and Australians.

Light Fantastic will open on Saturday, April 6 and run through to January next year at the Museum of Brisbane at Brisbane'’s newly refurbished City Hall. Admission is free.

Topics:  brisbane, editors picks, expo 88, museum



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