Souvenir hunters extend Shanghai Expo's legacy

By Yu Ran (China Daily)
Updated: 2010-11-08 07:30
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Souvenir hunters extend Shanghai Expo's legacy
Made up of two buildings hugging each other, some said that the Israel pavilion looked like two clasped hands or a seashell. Its most prestigious exhibit, a replica of Einstein's manuscripts of relativity, will be displayed permanently at the Expo Museum, which is scheduled to open in 2012.

SHANGHAI - For six months, the sights and sounds of Shanghai's Expo Garden enthralled a record number of visitors from across the globe - and the fun is not about to stop just yet.

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Work to demolish the site is already under way and fans are now snapping up thousands of items used in pavilions as souvenirs of the world's fair, which closed its doors on Oct 31.

As well as mementos in demand from collectors, other exhibits will also go under the hammer to raise cash for charity, be recycled or donated to the forthcoming Expo Museum.

Red solar cells that adorned the outside of the Swiss Pavilion have proved one of the most popular souvenirs.

"We started receiving orders to reserve them in early May," said Li Jia, media and events officer for the pavilion, who added that all 1,000 cells had been preordered and will be delivered to buyers within three months.

Each cell costs 260 yuan ($40) and comes with a numbered certificate, as well as information on the pavilion and solar energy.

"The solar cells were a unique feature at Expo 2010 Shanghai," said Wang Derui of Shanghai, who bought five of them. "I really like the color and the light it creates at night. I'm going to hang them at my new apartment."

The Germany Pavilion, which also proved a big hit with visitors, was constructed entirely with reusable materials and is now being broken up to be redistributed.

Its silver shell, which features a special membrane that reduces radiation, is to be sent to the German school in Shanghai's Qingpu district to be used as a sunscreen for tenants or facilities, while all its steel "will be melted down in Shanghai and used in future construction projects", said Dietmar Schmitz, the pavilion's commissioner-general.

Furniture and IT appliances will be shared between the Goethe Institute in Beijing and Tongji University's college of Sino-German studies.

Staff uniforms at the Germany Pavilion were 100-percent degradable and, to mark the end of the expo, workers buried them in Shanghai's Houtan Park. Schmitz added: "After digging the hole and putting the T-shirts into the ground, the material will react with the bacteria and dissolve within two to three years."

Bidding up

Several charity auctions for expo souvenirs have also proved successful.

On Oct 30, items from the France Pavilion were sold off in association with the Angel Mom Foundation and China Children Charity Foundation, who both support sick children from disadvantaged families.

"Items from the gift shop were sold at 52,000 yuan and the rest will be sold at other charity events following the expo," said Zhang Yifei, an organizer of Angel Mom Foundation.

Expo Auction Hall, a charity program broadcast on Ningxia TV, also offered a range of items on Oct 17, with 10 percent going to good causes. Among the lots were eco-friendly bicycles from the Denmark Pavilion and the world's heaviest jade tripod - 469 kilograms - from the pavilion run by Devnet, a non-governmental agency promoting IT in development.

"Dozens of items were sold at the auction," said Lu Ping, who headed the auction project for organizers China Business Network, part of Shanghai Media Group.

"The top bid was 2 million yuan for a pair of jade bi (artifacts from ancient China) carved with dragon and phoenix patterns from the Devnet Pavilion," he added.

China Business Network is now planning a second show later this month.

"We're still working on gathering expo items, such as a golden teardrop from the same series as the one displayed at the Czech Republic Pavilion and a redwood screen signed by several Devnet Pavilion directors," said Lu.

Online auctions staged after the television show for limited edition items like chocolate from the Belgium-European Union Pavilion and a T-shirt autographed by Real Madrid soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo from the Portugal Pavilion.

Two steel panels from the Australia Pavilion decorated by Aussie artists Guy Maestri and Frances Belle Parker were also auctioned on Oct 30 at Red Gate Gallery in Beijing.

"The works fetched AUD$16,250 ($16,400) in total, which will be shared between Xing Ren Primary School in Sichuan province and an aboriginal school in Tennant Creek, Australia," said Liyu Yeo, manager of Red Gate Gallery.

About 80,000 acrylic rods containing seeds from the United Kingdom Pavilion were snapped up on the popular Chinese auction website Taobao in just two minutes on Oct 28.

"The money will be donated to the Shanghai-based CereCare Wellness Center," said Carma Elliot, British consul-general in Shanghai and acting commissioner-general of the pavilion.

"Another 1,000 rods will be distributed to Chinese schools involved in the Green Your School and Climate 4 Classrooms programs initiated by the British Council," she added.

Lasting legacy

Many exhibits, however, have already been donated to the Expo Museum, which will open its doors on May 1, 2012, to coincide with the second anniversary of the Shanghai expo.

A replica of Einstein's manuscript of relativity displayed at the Israel Pavilion will be among the treasures. Hebrew University in Jerusalem, which owns the manuscript, has agreed to donate it to enhance the bond between Israel and China.

"Einstein's theory of relativity has been a great inspiration for Israel innovators," said Yaffa Ben-Ari, deputy commissioner-general of the Israel Pavilion. "I hope Israel's creative energy will continue to inspire visitors to the Expo Museum."

Every replica used in exhibits in the Turkey Pavilion will also remain in China as gifts to the museum or as displays at the Turkish consulate in Shanghai or Turkish embassy in Beijing.

"We're making plans to launch a cultural center for Turkey in China with all remaining exhibits and collections in the future," said Eren Kurt, operations and commercial manager for the Turkey Pavilion.

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