Reinventing The World’s Fair: Is Maker Faire The Perfect Solution?

1964 New York World’s Fair. Photo: Associated Press

The New York Times has a regularly occurring section called Room For Debate, where they bring in knowledgeable people to discuss timely topics and events. In this case, they asked the following question:

Reinventing the World’s Fair, or Not. Is there a way to give the fairs of the past new life? And if so, what would they look like?

Chiming in to offer their opinions on the subject were the following experts:

Each had their own interesting angle on the concept of a new World’s Fair. There was mention on where it should be geographically located, what it should include, and even a note that maybe we’re better off without the unethical treatment of people and animals that happened there. If you’ve ever been to a Maker Faire though, you’re probably already thinking the thoughts that Dale extrapolates in his response. Maker Faire is the perfect replacement for World’s Fair and it is already here.

It is important for us as a society to imagine the future, and the World’s Fair provided the context for doing so. But it is also vital to see ourselves participating actively in creating or making the future, and that’s what we believe Maker Faire is doing.

You should really take a moment to read each of their responses, and see the other parallels that Dale draws between the two events over at the New York Times.

Of course, if you’ve never been to a Maker Faire, it can be difficult to explain what an incredible experience it is. This video captures a moment from a single Maker Faire. Now imagine that there are Maker Faires happening all around the world, where people can see and create the future.

YouTube player

What are your thoughts? Is there a necessity for a new World’s Fair, or is it already here?


1 thought on “Reinventing The World’s Fair: Is Maker Faire The Perfect Solution?

  1. Sherry Huss says:

    Would love to get a discussion going on Makezine – what do all of you think? We have created Maker Faire with a nod to fairs of the past — bringing together the community, the sharing of latest projects of makers with a bit of fun, flair and even food. I am proud to have been creating these fairs from the very beginning and welcome feedback from the community too. Sherry (

  2. Sheet Metal Alchemist says:

    Definitely a huge fan of Maker Faire, but as a replacement for a world’s fair? No way. I think an essential element of world’s fairs was an impressive large scale “marvel” (golden gate bridge, Eiffel tower, etc.). Maker Faire doesn’t do anything close to that scale. Perhaps a really good start would be to offer “Maker” grants for specific pieces?

  3. Cameron Stern says:

    I wish there were more opportunity to create ride on attractions at Maker Faires. At the 1964 World’s Fair attractions like “It’s a small world”, GE’s Carousel of Progress, and the Futurama were able to be made and experienced, but with events that only last a few days at most and not an entire year (or at least a couple of months), there is no hope for anything of that scale.

    I would love to see a year long maker faire happen in a different location every 4-6 years with cities competing to host it like the olympics. It would even be amazing to see a permanent maker faire “theme park and exposition” developed. Of course those feel like pipe dreams.

    1. Jason Babler says:

      I agree about being able to ride attractions. I want a three-story dragon I ride with real fire-breathing :) !!

      1. Cameron Stern says:

        I never saw this comment, so I’m a little late, but want to make one?

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