It’s been 33 years since the United States has hosted a World’s Fair. And Michael Weiss, Co-Founder and CEO of Worlds Fair USA, wants to see that change.
Under the World Expo moniker the tradition of World’s Fairs still continue outside of the U.S. Milan hosted the 2015 expo, and Dubai will host the 2020 iteration. But the United States hasn’t hosted since the ’80s.
“The World’s Fair was so cool, because like, 1964-65 New York, 51 million Americans went to that World’s Fair,” Weiss says. “And I’m constantly meeting older people who went to that fair, and they were so inspired by what they saw that it has truly affected their entire life and all of their decisions.”
But, Weiss said, back in 2002 the United States decided to cancel its membership in the organization that runs the World Expo. We’ve, understandably, been fresh out of World’s Fair luck since.
“And so, that’s where we come in,” Weiss says. “And, you know, our goal as a company … is to bring the first World’s Fair to the United States since 1984.”
But that quest begins with baby steps. Worlds Fair USA is starting small, with what it is calling Worlds Fair Nano. The inaugural event happened in New York last August, and this weekend the second will hit San Francisco at Pier 70, consisting of five areas: the Technology Playground, a Speaker Series, Art, Music, and Food.
The whole purpose of Worlds Fair Nano “is to excite people about the future, and you get excited about something once you learn about it,” Weiss says. “And all of these different components to the event is, you know, fully informs you, or nearly fully informs you about the future. That’s the point.”
Activities include everything from a life sized version of Pong in mixed reality where people’s bodies are the paddles, the Icarus Art Car, a fireball shooting gallery — holy shit, yes, you read that right — and even edible examples like Soylent and Go Cubes chewable coffee. The Speaker Series will look at the future of myriad subjects: journalism, democracy, feminism, cannabis, and even dating are just some of the talks on the bill. Don’t miss Tim Thompson’s Space Palette, a bizarre and fascinating musical instrument that allows you to paint visuals while you play it, either.
“For me, the most important thing in my life is just being excited about waking up and excited for tomorrow or the future, and I find that the best thing for that is to know about it, and learn about it and experience it,” Weiss says.
Worlds Fair Nano, Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 28-29, at Pier 70, 420 22nd St., $55-$120, worldsfairusa.com/nano/sf.