Belgian Pavilion (New York World’s Fair, New York, 1939-1940)

Ives Maes KMSKA Kosmorama Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp World’s Fairs Expo Ives Maes KMSKA Kosmorama Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp World’s Fairs Expo

Lambda print, UV glass, oak frame

106 x 131 cm

Edition of 1 + 1 AP



In 1885, 1894, and 1930, World’s Fairs were held in Antwerp. The first two expositions took place right here, in the new district on the South, with this museum building as the centrepiece. At these international exhibitions, participating countries showcased their national achievements in science, industry, art, and architecture. This representation of the world was exhibited in temporary pavilions. Temporary, as those pavilions were originally intended to disappear. Only the invention of photography could provide proof of their short-lived existence. 

Visual artist Ives Maes photographed the heritage of these ephemeral events all over the world, from the Great Exhibition in London in 1851 to Expo 2015 in Milan. His photographs show that many pavilions were given an extended lifetime. Most are abandoned and forgotten utopias, while others were changed into a permanent structure. These include important museum buildings that have been handed down to us to this day, such as the Rijksmuseum or the Musée d'Orsay. In the meantime, the renovated building of the KMSKA has also acquired a unique place in this impressive legacy. 

The photographs and accompanying travel notes by Ives Maes question the panoramic dream of yesteryear. And they endeavour, after more than a century and a half of expo history, to look at the world from a different perspective.


In the FUTURE OF YESTERDAY the Belgian artist Ives Maes searched the globe looking for evidence of World’s Fairs. He photographed the architectural remnants of these short-lived events and the sites on which they were built, often revealing an ironic contrast between the grand utopian views of times past and the urban reality of today. His eerie photographs are afterimages, lingering vestiges of now fading dreams.



KMSKA Royal Museum of Fine Arts, Antwerp, Belgium

24/09/22 - 03/09/22

Solo exhibition

Installation view by Joost Joossen