Czech pavilion at Shanghai expo getting record attendance


The Czech Republic’s pavilion at the Expo2010 fair in Shanghai is proving an enormous success. Attendance figures have surpassed expectations and on Tuesday the pavilion welcomed its 4 millionth visitor. Radio Prague asked the Czech pavilion’s spokeman Jiři F. Potužník for the latest news from Shanghai.

“The Czech pavilion welcomed - during the first three months - more than 4 million visitors and our original expectations were approximately 3 million as the maximum number of visitors we would get for the duration of the expo –that is from May 1st till October 31st. According to available information attendance-wise the Czech pavilion is one of the most successful expositions at the expo and we also have very good coverage in the local media. The space given to the Czech pavilion evaluated at the price of commercial advertisement is at the moment more than three million euros so we are quite happy about that.”

I understand the record attendance has also been a bit of a burden –in terms of requiring extra maintenance, is that right?

Jiři F. Potužník
“Yes, as I mentioned some of the exhibits are interactive, for instance there is the cockpit of an ultra-light plane where visitors can use a joystick to fly the plane over Czech landscape – that’s a very popular exhibit and the joystick has already had to be replaced. Another example is the work of Jakub Nepraš who uses a number of projectors to bring his sculptures to life. Those are affected by air pollution and they have to be cleaned and maintained also. But the pavilion is sound and solid and because maintenance work takes place at night visitors are not restricted in any way.”

You’ve already mentioned several exhibits. What attracts people most to the pavilion?

“Especially those interactive exhibits. Chinese visitors are crazy about anything that they can handle or drive. They are happy that they can touch some of our exhibits and I can say that this is what initially attracts them to our pavilion. But once inside, they are moved and astonished especially by the modern art exhibits by Jakub Nepraš –they can’t understand how it is done and they are really impressed. So I think that those two things are the biggest attractions.”

What about the golden teardrop –that received a great deal of publicity…

“Yes it did. The golden tear is just a part of a bigger exhibit called LacrimAu. Every five hundredth visitor can take a seat in the glass box, look at the drop and take a guess as to how much gold went into its making. The ten best guessers will win a money prize. As they sit there watching the golden tear a laboratory connected to the exhibit makes a special perfume for them capturing a mood – on the basis of their brain activity while they are watching the tear – which is monitored by sensors. So it is quite complicated and the golden tear is just one part of this sophisticated installation.”

That must be extremely popular. Have you tried it yourself?

“Not yet, I must admit.”

Finally, I understand that the Chinese have expressed interest in buying the pavilion, is that right?

“That is true. They expressed an interest in it just a few weeks into the expo and now the commissioner general is negotiating with the city of Huzhow.

This city of 3 million inhabitants would like to buy the exhibition as a whole complex and that is an excellent opportunity for us – not only because the Czech state would save some money for the transport and installation of the pavilion but also because it would continue to serve its purpose – to represent the Czech Republic in China as a creative nation. So the interest in acquiring it we consider to be an enormous success.”