148. Memorandum From the Director of the United States Information Agency (Marks) to President Johnson1

EXPO 67 at Montreal has opened and has received wide press attention.2

The U.S. Pavilion produced and operated by USIA has been featured in all leading reviews. With few exceptions, great praise has been given to the United States for the imaginative design of the pavilion and the manner in which the exhibit has been prepared. Typical press comment is shown below:

New York Times—April 28, 1967—states editorially “Canada and the U.S. both have hits in EXPO 67, which opens in Montreal today. . . . the United States Pavilion is a standout—a joyous distillation of the best American art, science and culture, no less profound for its easy wit and beauty.”

“Fortunately, the U.S. has finally recognized, in its glittering Buckminster Fuller ‘skybreak bubble,’ that its best cultural exports are its dynamic young talent and its innovative masters.3 The combination steals the scene.”

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New York Times—April 28, 1967—Ada Louise Huxtable says of the U.S. Pavilion, “It is suave, witty, sensitive, subtle, artful, elegant and profound. It is also beautiful.”4

Montreal Star—April 20, 1967—praises the U.S. Pavilion . . . “the pavilion exhibits two sterling virtues which are scarcer than hen’s teeth when the government of a powerful nation is involved: elegance and humor.”

Montreal Star—April 30, 1967 is filled with praise of U.S. Pavilion—stating “. . . an overwhelming statement about American architectural and engineering genius.” And, after describing the exhibit in detail it continues, “If you don’t grasp the fact that these and many other similar exhibits in the Pavilion (U.S.) of one of the two most powerful nations on earth could have been conceived only by people of wit and imagination with real love for and a knowledge of their country and a supreme confidence in its strength and variety—you missed the point entirely.”

Montreal Star comments appear to be typical of Canadian press reaction.

Christian Science Monitor5—April 7, 1967—says of the U.S. Pavilion, “The most striking of all . . .”

Associated Press—April 29, 1967—under Max Harrelson’s byline says, “Even at this early stage the U.S. Pavilion has established itself as the biggest attraction at the Montreal World’s Fair—and the most controversial.

“Some of those viewing the U.S. Pavilion had strong opinions about its contents, but all seemed to agree that the design was spectacular and worthy of the United States.”

As a lone voice, Newsday was highly critical and said, “Throughout the building there is size without meaning, numbers without substance, artifacts without ideas. There is little intellect, little humor and little entertainment, and worst of all, there is little humanity . . .”

Attendance at the U.S. Pavilion is running about 50,000 a day, and EXPO officials tell us that it has been the most popular exhibit. Comments from visitors given to guides and to our officials confirm the complimentary remarks in the editorials quoted above.

Leonard H. Marks
  1. Source: Johnson Library, White House Central Files, Confidential File, Agency Reports, U.S. Information Agency, Box 135 [2 of 2], United States Information Agency 1967 [3 of 3]. No classification marking. Sent through Kintner, who initialed the memorandum. An unknown hand, presumably that of one of Johnson’s secretaries, wrote the letter “L” in the upper left-hand corner of the memorandum indicating that Johnson had seen it. Another copy is in the Johnson Library, Marks Papers, Box 32, White House Weekly Reports, Library 1967.
  2. Reference is to the 1967 International and Universal Exposition, commonly referred to as Expo 67 or the 1967 World’s Fair held in Montreal, Canada. It opened April 27 and closed October 29. The exposition served to showcase the industry, science, agricultural production, technology, and culture of participating nations. (Eugene Griffin, “Canada’s Expo Will Open to Public Today,” Chicago Tribune, April 28, 1967, p. 1; and Gerald Waring, “Expo Closes, Future Unsure,” Washington Post, October 30, 1967, p. A1)
  3. Reference is to the American architect, theorist, author, and inventor Buckminster Fuller who designed the “skybreak bubble” for the Montreal Expo. (Kathleen Teltsch, “A 20-Story Bubble by Fuller to Hold U.S. Expo 67 Display,” New York Times, March 1, 1967, p. 45)
  4. See Ada Louise Huxtable, “A Fair with Flair,” New York Times, April 28, 1967, p. 18.
  5. See Richard L. Strout, “Borsch to Caviar,” Christian Science Monitor, April 7, 1967, p. 20.