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Rotunda - Expo Vancouver 1986

Missing picture

Vancouver's oldest industrial building, La Rotonde, which a century ago served as a repair shop for steam locomotives, presents "Ingenuity at its Best". Sponsored by Imperial Oil Limited and EXPO 86, it has just been beautifully restored.

In the Rotunda depot is CPR locomotive No. 374 which brought the first transcontinental passenger train to Vancouver.

This themed pavilion highlights the work of the transportation pioneers whose sense of adventure and discovery enabled humanity to move from the age of steam to the age of aviation in less than a century. The exhibition in the Rotunda was designed by Art Centrum/Studio Shape, the Czechoslovakian company that built the remarkable Czechoslovakia pavilion at Expo 67.

At the entrance to the Esso Rotunda is a giant rotating semaphore, a symbol of the first signalling devices. Another sculpture, another semaphore designed by artist Robert McKechnie, is located in the central aisle of EXP086 and greets passengers on the Monorail as they pass.

A huge locomotive wheel occupies the former Diesel Workshop, where entertainers drive bizarre vehicles that never got beyond the stage of invention. Through telescopes, visitors can watch short animated films about real and imaginary means of transport.

In the Retrospective Corridor, golden statues represent inventors and their wacky machines.

In the hall, there is a collection of rare vehicles, including an 1893 Benz Victoria and the oldest Bugatti, built in 1912, as well as a working reproduction of the Rocket locomotive, which inaugurated the railway era in 1829.

The Giant Machine, in the shape of an ancient aircraft engine, houses a 160-seat theatre where a film made from archives from around the world shows the happy and tragic moments of some of the pioneers of technology at the beginning of the century.

The Holography Gallery in the Rotunda presents the Spectral Images exhibition, the largest of its kind. Michael Snow, one of Canada's best-known artists, created the 50 or so holograms in this exhibition.

Three-dimensional images created by laser and photography, the holograms illustrate the phenomenon of parallax and change their appearance as the viewer moves. Snow treats landscapes, still lifes and portraits with this avant-garde technique.

Discovered in 1940, holography is more than an artistic tool and is also used in medical and industrial research. However, it was not until the development of the laser beam that the technique could be used.


Visitors can climb aboard the Locomotive People #4 sculpture, a symbol of movement, energy, progress and creativity.

The sculpture consists of four life-size metal figures in three transparent Plexiglas and polished stainless steel cabins that visitors can enter.

Toronto artist Miho Sawada wanted to express the idea of passage, based on the concept of a bridge that allows people to cross a natural obstacle. In Europe they also house shops and homes. Locomotive People #4 symbolises the bridge as a place of passage, meeting and exchange.

©Official Guide - Expo'86