Expo 2010 helps put Czech Republic on the map, says head of Czech exhibition in Shanghai

Foto: ČTK

The Czech pavilion at Expo 2010 in Shanghai, adorned with a plan of Prague’s Old Town made of hockey pucks, has seen a steady stream of visitors since it first opened its doors on Saturday. In tough competition with around 190 national exhibitions featured in the global fair, the Czech pavilion has so far proved one of the most successful. Radio Prague spoke to the Czech commissioner for Expo 2010, Pavel Antonín Stehlík, and asked him about the first three days of the event.

The Czech pavilion at Expo 2010, photo: CTK
“When it comes to the number of visitors, it exceeded our expectations. We didn’t expect to exceed our technical capacity every day. But we are here for the visitors, and because in China, they have holidays at the moment, there are many people coming to the Expo and we didn’t want to say no to them when they want to see our pavilion.”

What are the features of the Czech pavilion that have been most popular with the visitors?

“I would say that definitely the beginning of the exhibition where we have the reliefs from Charles Bridge in Prague. Many visitors to Prague and the city’s inhabitants touch those for good luck, and it really works – we took them off and brought them down to Shanghai, and they became extremely popular. While on Charles Bridge, you can see people just touching them, here they are really polishing them with their hands and making their wishes.”

Photo: CTK
One of the central pieces of the Czech exhibition is a golden drop that every 500th visitor gets to see from up close. What is the golden drop, and how does it work?

“There are two attractions related to the golden drop, which is called Lacrima. The first is that every 500th is invited inside a glass box. There they sit down, we put sensors on them and take their emotions and transfer these emotions through spectral technology into a personalized perfume which is combined out of ten specific scents, or ingredients. In the end, they receive a flacon with a bit of their unique perfume. So that’s one thing, but we also wanted to do something for every visitor, so each of them can use their mobile phone to make their personal guess how much gold the Lacrima is made of. At the end of the Expo, we will reward the ten best guesses with 50,000 RMBs, or roughly 140,000 Czech crowns.”

Do the Chinese people generally know about the Czech Republic and where it is located, or are they surprised when they come and see the pavilion?

Pavel Antonín Stehlík, photo: CTK
“I think they are surprised because they usually only know about Czechoslovakia, and most people did not notice the country had split. So they are learning about it, and that’s why we put so much effort into presenting the contemporary Czech Republic. We want to send a message to China that this is what the country is like now. That’s why the whole exhibition is about the Czech Republic of the third millennium. We don’t go much into history; we want to present the current Czech Republic.”