History of Romania’s’ participation in universal exhibitions between 1867-1939

Romania at the Universal Exhibition in Paris 1867

The Commissioner General of the Romanian Principalities for the Universal Exhibition in Paris 1867 was Alexandru Odobescu, who assigned the construction of Romania’s Pavilion to the French architect Ambroise Baudry. The edifice had as its main model the Episcopal Church in Curtea de Argeş; the architectural differences from the original model were very significant, though. The Principalities’ Pavilion was said to be a typical instance of the architecture at the confluence of two very different worlds, the Occident and Byzantium.


Romania at the Universal Exhibition in Paris 1889

The head of the Romanian Commission for the Universal Exhibition in Paris 1889 was Prince George Bibescu. The two national Pavilions were designed by architect Ion Mincu, respectively the Restaurant and the Pavilion of wine tasting, which turned into elements of Romanian traditional architecture. The Pavilion of wine tasting was built of fir tree trunks, had a straw roof and resembled – more or less – a Romanian peasant house. The restaurant was like a cottage, with its own towers and walls, with eave, porch, panelling and wooden beams detached from the main part of the construction.


Romania at the Universal Exhibition in Paris 1900

The one appointed to organise Romania’s participation in the Universal Exhibition in Paris 1900 was Commissioner General Dimitrie Ollanescu, who tried to combine the sobriety of Byzantine tradition (Central Royal Pavilion) and the memory of past noble life (Restaurant). Romania arranged at this Exhibition four pavilions:

  • The Central Pavilion, designed by French architect Camille Formigé;
  • The Restaurant, which represented a peasant house with veranda;
  • The Tobacco Kiosk made according to the plans of architect Petre Antonescu, who  designed a building looking like the Romanian ancient monumental fountains;
  • The fourth pavilion had the form of an oil tank, inscribed with the names of the most important extraction stations in Romania.


Romania at the Universal Exhibition in Liége 1905

Romania’s participation in the Exhibition in Liège was organised by a Committee headed by Eugen Mavrodi. The Committee decided to build a pavilion on the Quai Mativa. The edifice was projected by the architect Grigore Cerchez, in the spirit of late 17th - early 18th century Wallachian civil architecture. The Pavilion was like a noble house; on the semi-buried ground floor was placed a traditional Romanian restaurant, and on the first floor there were showcases with oil products, graphics, maps and photos of oil exploitation centres. Along with the oil products, the Pavilion hosted some cottage industry stands.


Romania at the Universal Exhibition in Ghent, Belgium 1913

Romania participated in the Universal Exhibition in Ghent with a stand decorated with national fine art themes, including the exhibits of 55 Romanian producers or collectors, covering a 380 square meter surface. Organising Romania’s participation in this Exhibition was assigned to C. V. Correni.


Romania at the Universal Exhibition in Barcelona 1929

Romania’s Pavilion was placed on the highest terrace of the Exhibition, close to the Spanish and Italian pavilions. The Pavilion comprised two entirely wooden rooms. The roof was supported by a colonnade surrounded by plants and flowers. The exterior elements of the building, columns, windows etc were decorated with sculptures representing Romanian traditional motifs. The interior of the Pavilion was very simple, with big surfaces covered by grey fabric, to highlight the exhibits displayed on an area of about 400 sq.m. The different sections of the Pavilion offered to the visitors a glimpse into the Romanian people’ past, the riches of the country and the intellectual pursuits of Romanians.

The Pavilion was built according to architect Duiliu Marcu’s design. The Romanian Committee set up for this exhibition included prestigious Romanian personalities like Professor D. Gusti, I.M. Sadoveanu, Professor Al. Tzigara-Samurcaş and others.


Romania at the Universal Exhibition in Brussels 1935

Romania’s participation in this exhibition was placed under the patronage of King Carol II. The Commissioner General of this exhibition was Cezar Popescu, and Romania’s Pavilion was designed by architect Constantin Mosinschi. Within the Pavilion were organised sections for agriculture, transport and textiles, as well as ancient, religious and peasant art.


Romania at the Universal Exhibition in Paris 1937

Romania’s Commissioner General for this exhibition was Dimitrie Gusti. The National Pavilion of Romania was the creation of architect Duiliu Marcu, one of the closest persons to King Carol II. Built in a sober style, of Ruschita marble, the Pavilion featured a façade with arcades, the main entrance having a 22-meter high arch.

The interior frescoes and the decorations represented, in various ways, the national history. In the garden there were some reliefs evoking the beginnings and the origin of the Romanian people. Displayed in the rooms of the Pavilion were characters of the Romanian legends and also a number of photos of wooden churches from Maramureş. In the hall of fame was placed a life-size statue of King Carol II.

The basement was designed like a real hunting and tourism museum. On the ground floor was the economic promotion department, while the third floor was set aside for the fine art gallery.

On the inauguration, Dimitrie Gusti, Commissioner General of Romania’s Pavilion, said:

“A people living at a crossroads,  the Romanians have however their own civilisation, deeply rooted in a peasant world and in a shining urban effervescence. Resulting from time passing and tireless researches, the multiple forms of this civilisation, creating new values, will decorate our Pavilion with their infinite variety.

“All practical achievements, derived from our richness will be put together with art creations, collective or individual, and with the manifestation of an always young and new energy. In this way our Pavilion will give, I hope, a true picture of the Romanian specific contribution to humanity’s creative work.”


Romania at the Universal Exhibition in New York 1939

At the height of a process of asserting its national identity, Romania tried, through industry, culture and tradition, to be noticed internationally. Therefore at the Universal Exhibition in New York, Romania was one of the best appreciated participants.

Its Pavilion was inaugurated on the 30 April 1939, in the presence of Romanian officials, the Commissioner General of the Pavilion being the Academician Dimitrie Gusti.

The Universal Exhibition, having as theme "The World of Tomorrow”, took place at Flushing Meadows during the years 1939 -1940.

Romania presented two buildings: Romania’s Pavilion and the Romanian House, which had a restaurant that competed with the French one in attracting costumers and which became a meeting place for the time’s American elite.

Artworks by Cornel Medrea, Ion Jalea and Gheorghe Petrascu delighted the visitors, and the traditional food and the wine offered in the summer garden were praised.

The illustrations of Romania’s theme at the Exhibition included highlights from the sectors dedicated to aviation, agriculture, research, oil extraction and processing.

Great names of the American architecture opined that Romanian pavilions were the most successful in point of architecture and as general presentation and were creating the image of one of the most interesting countries at the American Exhibition.

As for music, present at the exhibition were, along with Grigoraş Dinicu’s folk music band, Maria Tănase and Fanică Luca, outstanding performers of Romanian folk music, who truly impressed the visitors.