The project for the exhibition dates from the early months of 1914. Since the other three major Belgian cities had each had their own world exhibition since 1894, Antwerp had the field open. The idea was already taking shape and the first projects were being drawn up, when the war suddenly put an end to the beautiful dream.
The date was set for 1920. That year passed without even a hint of the work whose realisation was so tragically interrupted. Does this mean that the people of Antwerp had finally given up on their project?
Far from it, they were impatient for better times to come, and it was only in 1924 that a number of prominent Antwerpians felt that the restoration of the country and the city had been sufficiently accomplished for the organisation of an international exhibition to be attempted again with any chance of success. Their suggestion found an echo and, strongly encouraged by the municipal administration, industrial and commercial circles, they soon had enthusiastic support.
The project moved forward rapidly, and on 3 October 1924, the Initiative Committee was officially set up at the Town Hall. This committee, whose mission was limited to preparatory work, cleared the ground, so to speak, for the final start-up.
It is to this committee that the exhibition owes its solid foundations. It was this committee that had the good idea of choosing the glorious date of 1930 for the exhibition, a year that was doubly historic because of the celebration of the first centenary of our national independence and because of the solemn inauguration of the new maritime installations that were to make the port of Antwerp the largest on the continent.
It was also the Initiative Committee that chose the marvellous site where the exhibition was to be held; it was the Committee that conceived and decided on the broad lines of the programme, so judiciously adapted to the specific character of our commercial metropolis and to the economic contingencies of our time. Finally, it was the Initiative Committee which, through its "appeal to the population" and personal efforts, provoked the great enthusiasm which made it possible, in a few weeks, to set up, with a capital of 15 million, subscribed to by all classes of the population, the limited company in charge of the effective realisation and permanent management of the "International, Colonial, Maritime and Flemish Art Exhibition, Antwerp 1930".
All that remained to be done was to set up the staff that would take charge of the effective and daily management of this vast undertaking, whose programme had been drawn up and whose means of realisation had been at least partially acquired.
The Board of Directors carried out this task by appointing an Executive Committee from among its members, to which it delegated the most extensive powers and which we will discuss later.
The ground was cleared, the drivers were at their posts and we could leave.
We made good progress and soon the official patronage of the Government, already decided in principle, was definitively acquired and confirmed by the appointment of a Commissioner General: Major General Ecuyer A de MEULEMEESTER, who was later replaced in this function by the Commissioner General, Count Adrien van der BURCH.
On 14 June 1926, Their Majesties the King and the Queen also granted Their high patronage to the exhibition, of which, moreover, HRH Prince Leopold accepted the Honorary Presidency, which he currently shares with his august and gracious companion, HRH Princess Astrid.
Finally, on 17 November 1926, the preparations were so advanced that the Government could officially launch the invitations to foreign nations.
The plan for the Exhibition was designed and drawn up by the talented Antwerp architect, Mr. Joseph Smolderen, chief architect of the Exhibition Society.
The land, with a usable area of more than 50 hectares, belonged to the City, which made it available to the Exhibition Society free of charge. It was located just two kilometres from the city centre. macos/deepLFree.translatedWithDeepL.text