The Museum of Vancouver is marking the 30th anniversary of the opening of Expo 86 with Recollecting Expo 86, an exhibition of Expo 86 collectibles and memorabilia.
The exhibit is made up of six displays containing a variety of Expo 86 memorabilia including hats, pins, beer cans, and Expo Ernie figurines.
Vancouver City Councillor George Affleck worked as a host in the BC Pavilion during Expo. He was on hand to open the exhibit, and to share his own memories of the event.
He says that the fair was an incredibly important event for Vancouver.
“It was a turning point. I think it changed the face of our city for the long term.”
He also said that even at the time, people knew it was going to be something special.
“People were very excited about it. For years they were anticipating it… Expo 67 had been a big deal for Montreal, so there was definitely that sense that this was an important event for Vancouver.”
The museum’s curator, Viviane Gosselin, echoed that sentiment.
“For people living in Vancouver at the time, it was a hugely impactful event, and I think it’s worth it for people who weren’t there to be reminded of that. It really shaped the way people thought of themselves and saw the city; from a provincial town and becoming this bolder, self confident city.”
For her, it was important to have physical objects from Expo 86 for the exhibit.
“Objects are memory triggers. So you can images, you can have pictures, you can have stories, but it’s so interesting to see that with small objects that look really mundane, then it triggers something. It causes people to remember all sorts of things.”
Expo 86 remains one of the largest public events ever held in B.C., with more than 22 million visitors during the five month event.
The exhibit runs until mid-September.