Following the awarding of several prizes at the 1862 exhibition in London, Napoleon III and parliament declared, in January 1863, their intention to host the next universal exhibition in Paris.
The new face of Paris, completely redesigned by Baron Haussmann, unquestionably symbolised the splendour of the Second Empire, and to underline this, the exhibition was to be the largest and most visited, and France's technical and economic progress was to be highlighted.
The exhibition was spread over two thirds of the Champ de Mars and this area was mainly occupied by the Palais des expositions.
Due to a new classification system, cultural and industrial goods were now grouped by nation or genre and had to be seen in one go.
The architect Le Play therefore designed an oval palace in the shape of a Roman coliseum to meet the new requirements for the presentation of objects.
In the park, water games, restaurants and other entertainment were offered to relax and entertain the visitors.
The exhibition was attended by almost all the crowned heads of the world and was therefore a diplomatic success as well as a cultural one.