In 1930, Belgium celebrated the centenary of its independence by organising two international exhibitions to testify to the progress made in this century of existence; one was held in Antwerp, the other in Liege.
The main purpose of the Liège Exhibition was to highlight the growing role of science in modern industry, to show that industrial activity can only prosper by using the most recent resources of science. Even more than the past - which is necessarily evoked to mark evolution - it was the future that was exalted in all its grandiose perspectives, in its immense possibilities. Already, especially since the tremendous upheaval caused by the Great War, old industries have seen their domain restricted more and more; current contingencies and technical progress have led to the creation of new industries. The Liège Exhibition highlighted the recent acquisitions of the scientist, the engineer and the doctor; it drew up a sort of living inventory of activities that have evolved, been renovated or created; it cleared the way for future conquests. In order to mark the stage before the impetus of tomorrow, "it takes stock, as it were, of the new economy of nations".
The Exhibition's programme included the following main sections: Science, Industry, Agriculture and Social Economy; in secondary order: Ancient Walloon Art, Music, Sports, Tourism and Various Attractions.
The Exhibition was developed in two sectors, located on the banks of the Meuse itself: the northern sector (50 hectares), which included the former manoeuvring ground (right bank) and the municipal shooting park (left bank); the southern sector (15 hectares), which included the Jardin d'Acclimatation and the Boverie park (right bank).
Numerous means of communication (trams and boats) linked the two sectors.
The setting, for both the North and the South, was most attractive: on the one hand, the broad site of the valley, at the foot of the Bressoux hills; on the other hand, the aristocratic foliage near the confluence; and the clear, wide and undulating river furrow leading from one to the other.
More than 150,000 m2 were covered by buildings. On the manoeuvring ground: the Palace of Metallurgy, Mines and Mechanics (28,000 m2); the Palace of Electricity (17,000 m2); the Palace of Chemistry and Textile Industries (11. 000 m2); the Palace of Arms, Cycles and Motorcycles (4,000 m2); the Palace of Transport and Civil Engineering (8,000 m2); the Palace of Glass and Ceramics (3,200 m2); the Palace of Ministries (7,200 m2); the Palace of Festivals (6,000 m2); the Palace of Gas (2. 000 m2); the palaces of France (20,000 m2), Italy (8,000 m2), Holland (3,000 m2), Japan (3,000 m3), Egypt (1,500 m2), Spain (3,500 m2), Czechoslovakia (1,600 m2), Switzerland (1,600 m2), Poland (1. 200 m2), the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg (1,000 m2), the pavilion of the City of Paris, and many others, whose original and fresh architecture was framed by beautifully flowered gardens and which, in the evening, lit up as if in a fairy tale.
The gardens of the Tir communal were reserved for the most modern attractions; the great agricultural competitions took place there, on the banks of the Meuse.
In the southern sector: the Palace of Agriculture (6,500 m2); the Palace of Fine Arts (2,500 m2) and the Church of Fétinne (2,000 m2); the agricultural village (with a large farm, a small farm, rural workshops, etc.); the Palace of Festivities and the pavilion of the City of Liège; the palace of the major cities (Brussels, Antwerp and Garni); the Palace of Tourism (1,000 m2); the Palace of Water and Forests (700 m2), and numerous pavilions.
The Liege exhibition attracted only 6 million visitors, half of what was initially planned, no doubt due to the lack of interest in the industry among the general public.
Finally, the economic results of the Exhibition were negative in Liège, resulting in a loss of 5 million francs. The city's finances, already severely tested by the increasing expenditure on public assistance due to the crisis, were once again put to the test.