Lithuanian pavilion a big hit at EXPO 2000

  • 2000-08-10
  • Rokas M. Tracevskis

HANNOVER, Germany - The world is having a party in Germany and it's called EXPO 2000, which runs from June 1 to Oct. 31.

The Lithuanian pavilion has seen great success at this world exhibition. Reputable European media organizations have declared the Lithuanian pavilion to be among the five best expositions of EXPO 2000.

On the approximately 160-hectare site, some 180 nations, international organizations, and companies have pavilions. EXPO 2000 is a mixture of trade show, amusement park and scientific exhibitions of balance among humans, nature and technology in the 21st century.

Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia all have pavilions in Hannover.

The Baltic pavilions are situated in the "Boulevard of Europe" and are Italy, Portugal, Belgium, Denmark and other European nations. The architecture of most of the pavilions is reminiscent of the fantasies of Salvador Dali.

The Estonian pavilion is particularly moving. An artificial spruce forest forms the roof and sways as if the wind were sweeping over it. Limestone blocks gathered on the beach in the Estonian region of Paldiski swing from steel cables attached to the 2.5-meter trees. Ropes stretch through the interior and swing the limestone blocks in time with the trees. Under the floor of bluish glass, samples of Estonian skill in wrought iron can be seen. Films about Estonia show on large screens.

Lithuania's pavilion glows bright yellow. Focus, one of the biggest German magazines, said the top five of EXPO 2000 are the pavilions of Lithuania, Switzerland, Holland, Japan and Hungary.

The biggest daily of Belgium, De Standaard, nominated Lithuania for third place while Switzerland received the first, Holland second, Hungary fourth and Portugal fifth.

"The yellow building of unusual shape looks like world's biggest vacuum cleaner," De Standaard reported.

The lightweight steel structure, designed by a group of young Vilnius architects, is shaped like an airplane wing and is named "Flight."

Various interactive games familiarize visitors with the past, present and future of Lithuania. Documentary films invite visitors on a virtual flight over the country. Visitors also can get acquainted with Lithuania's Gubernija beer, produced in Siauliai. A half-liter bottle of Gubernija costs five German marks ($2.5) at EXPO 2000.

A long line stands in front of the Lithuanian pavilion. It takes about 40 minutes to get in. Summer is vacation time, and many visitors are school children.

"Lithuania looks like a very computerized country," said teenager Stefan.

Lithuanian guides, working in the "yellow vacuum cleaner," said they are happy about such impressions.

On July 6, Lithuania celebrated its national holiday, the crowning of King Mindaugas in 1263, on the EXPO site. The Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra and brass orchestra 'Trimitas' provided music. Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius entertained visitors with speeches.

"This is the first time Lithuania has participated in a world exhibition with its own pavilion. It is situated in the Boulevard of Europe and it demonstrates that Lithuania was, is and will be part of Europe. I hope that Lithuania will become member of the European Union very soon," he said.

According to Danute Develyte, the pavilion's director, some 12 percent of all visitors are visiting the Lithuanian "Flight." The total number of visitors to the Lithuanian pavilion since the beginning of July was 300,000. Many more are expected during the traditional vacation months in Europe - July and August.

Many of the pavilions will be used for other purposes after the EXPO closes. The Vatican, for example, will take its pavilion to Liepaja, Latvia, to become a community center. Gediminas Miskinis, Lithuania's representative at EXPO 2000, said the Lithuanian pavilion will be sold to a local German firm which will use it, perhaps, as a future amusement park in Hannover.