Lisbon universal exhibit

20 mai 1998
02m 11s
Ref. 00256


Summary :

Report on the last universal exhibit of the millenium in Lisbon, which is dedicated to the oceans and the commemoration of the great Portuguese maritime discoveries. Presentation of the great works of this event: replicas of ancient Portuguese caravels, the Océanorium, the biggest European aquarium, the Pavillonde la Connaissance which presents the techniques of shipbuilding and the French pavilion.

Media type :
Broadcast date :
20 mai 1998
Source :
FR3 (Collection: Soir 3 )


Created in the nineteenth century to celebrate the industrial advances made by the participating countries, the Universal Exhibitions - the first one taking place in London in 1951 - would allow for the flattering of national prides at a time of rising nationalism and the construction of great colonial empires. In the twentieth century, these universal exhibitions were progressively spaced out to allow room for the "specialised exhibitions", organised around a theme.

The Lisbon exhibition that took place from the 22nd of May to the 30th of September 1998 would be classed in the latter category as defined by the Bureau of International Expositions. On the theme of "Oceans, a heritage for our future", the Lisbon exhibition was first designed by the organisers to be a homage to the Portuguese navigator Vasco de Gama, 500 years after his discovery of the route to India. Each of the 140 participating countries appropriate this theme according to their identity, revealing scientific, technical, artistic or cultural aspects. The organisation of an international exhibition often gave the host town the opportunity to invest in large works which could then find a durable function. That is the case with the Oceanorium, one of the largest aquariums in Europe with 6000 cubic metres, open today to tourists.

Claire Sécail


And a superstar Lisbon. The exhibit is dedicated to the oceans. Portugal, which hasn't forgotten its conquests nor its maritime discoveries. A preview visit with Patrick Hesters.
Patrick Hesters
Facade of the 60 acres of ultra-contemporary buildings, there she is . The Bonne-Espérance's answer, one of the caravels of the Route to India. By his side, a Fernando II who was still making his way for Bombay in the XIXth century. Two master works of this exhibit that's entirely dedicated to the oceans. Portugal has, by itself, built all of the buildings that will house 140 countries. All of them rival in ingenuity to show off their know-how. But, without a doubt, the most beautiful one is the Oceanorium, Europe's largest aquarium, where sharks cross paths with entire schools of fish, just like in nature. 5 million litres of water contained by 27 centimetre thick acrylic windows. The pavilion of knowledge allows visitors to familiarise themselves with the techniques of shipbuilding. A presentation worthy of a museum of modern art. Holography allows us to be intiated to the techniques for diving without any breathing apparatus, while the Russians have generously loaned the Portuguese their first individual submarine model, which was made in 1891. Enough to make Alexander the Great dream, since, before our time, he was diving 4 metres deep with this alien's mask. In the French pavilion, dreamscapes combine with gastronomy since visitors will be able to savour oysters while viewing French shores on giant screens.
Bernard Testu
There, finally, this vision of discovery that a sailor gets when his navigation lands him on coastal grounds. And so, the first thing that we show him, is the French coast, those are the French coasts, our 5,500 kilometres of metropolitan and overseas territory coasts that are displayed on the 3 screens behind me.
Patrick Hesters
The exhibit will be inaugurated tomorrow, at the crossroads of history and modernity, 500 years, to the day, after the Portuguese navigator Vasco de Gama opened the route to India.