We have already mentioned that the Executive Committee of the Ghent Universal and International Exhibition had taken the wise decision to divide the halls, which were too large in previous exhibitions. This concept avoided the problem of congestion and disorder; it also avoided the serious disadvantage of offering fire an easy prey; the painful experience of Brussels alone justified this decision.
This new arrangement had repercussions on the configuration of the Belgian section, which was scattered throughout the Exhibition.
It was not, however, by chance that a particular group was placed or that several of them were brought together. As far as possible, the organisers endeavoured to juxtapose groups whose remit fell into parallel areas, so that when leaving the compartment of one and entering the compartment of another, the mind and the eye were not subjected to too brutal a collision.
The Belgian section had six main subdivisions: the Luxury Industry Palaces, the Industry Palaces, the Colonial Palace, the Palace of Science and Social Economy, a special Palace devoted to railway equipment, and finally, a vast grouping which, under the name of Modern Village, brought together everything relating to agriculture and horticulture. We will mention here only for the record the Belgian participation in the International Palace of Fine Arts.
The Palaces of Luxury Industries, to call them by a name that they did not officially bear, but which corresponds fairly well to our attempt at synthesis, were grouped together to the right and left of the main dome and the Court of Honour, from the main entrance to the Rosse Bayard group.
On the right, a large palace housed the Salon d'honneur of the Belgian Section in the centre. Around this hall were grouped the compartments for decoration and furniture, chemicals, hides and skins, sports, automobiles and aeronautics, printing and bookstores, and theatrical art.
At the end of the hall, the food group formed an important ensemble. Symmetrical to the first, the halls on the left, situated opposite those whose composition we have just indicated, included on the one hand the completely isolated Palais de la Mode et des Textiles, the Palais des diamantaires, des orfèvres et des bijoutiers, the Palais des travaux
the Palace of Diamonds, Goldsmiths and Jewellers, the Palace of Women's Work and the compartment reserved for various industries: brushmaking, leather goods, cutlery, etc. In the centre of these galleries, the Press Committee had taken up residence; the rooms made available to it by the general managers were artistically and practically fitted out by the Ghent section, chaired by Mr. Karel Eybaert.
The second part of the Belgian section, devoted to industry proper, occupied the left-hand side of the Avenue des Nations, near the imposing Colonial Palace. Between the Palais de la Hollande and the Palais colonial, the Palais des mines, the Palais de la métallurgie, the Palais du petit outillage, the Halle des lumières, the Halle des machines with, at the back, the Halle des générateurs, presented a grandiose demonstration of the industrial power of Belgium.
Finally, adjoining the Canada Palace, in the large Railway Equipment Palace, the retrospective exhibition of Belgian railways occupied a prominent place.
Attached to the group of palaces was the interesting exhibition of mines, set up by an association of collieries, which had used one of the casemates of the old citadel, in the centre of the Park, to create a miniature coal mine.
The imposing façade and dome of the Belgian Colonial Palace, which closed off the Avenue des Nations, attracted attention.
Opposite the railway equipment, a large hall housed the vocational and industrial schools of the City of Ghent; beyond the town square, a large hall was used for Military Art, Education, Social Economy, Hygiene and Civil Engineering. This grouping was adjacent to the French groups of Civil Engineering and Social Economy; this proximity facilitated comparative studies of the methods in vogue in the two countries.
Finally, at the very end of the World's Fair, a vast space grouped the picturesque buildings of the Modern Village, the Water and Forestry Pavilion, the Exhibition Hall of Agricultural and Horticultural Equipment; never had any exhibition offered a more important or more attractive demonstration of horticulture and agriculture.
Thus understood, the Belgian section offered the visitors a methodical and interesting order. The following considerations will only be the development of this general presentation.
©Livre d'Or de l'Exposition Universelle & Internationale de Gand 1913