The SKF Industries Pavilion at the New
York World's Fair was dedicated to the history of anti-friction
engineering and contribution of rolling bearings to the smooth
operation of every kind of machinery. The Pavilion was defined
by a graceful tower rising above an excavated site within the
corporate pavilion zone.
The modest scale of the pavilion was put
into perspective by the nearby Chrysler pavilion and those of
the other "big three" automotive companies.
Not to be outdone by the more generously
budgeted industrial pavilions, exterior signage announced the
availability of a free show within.
The excavated interior of the Pavilion
was divided roughly equally between an exhibition gallery and
a small theater. The exhibition gallery ...
... benefited from a mix of natural light
transmitted by the clerestory wrapped around the building and
interior cove lighting. The individual exhibits were organized
into a section dealing with technology and engineering and a
section dealing with bearing types and applications. The former
was demonstrated by animated museum exhibits that dealt with
conformity, spherocity and consistency ...
... while the latter presented a variety
of bearing types beneath images of their use.
The theater marquee directed visitors to
the theater and counted down to the next show.
In the first year of the Fair, the show
was an extension of the technology approach established by the
exhibition area. A new, more whimsical show was produced for
1965 that proved extremely popular and drew many more visitors
than had the initial presentation. The show was narrated by a
mechanical "host" ...
... conceived and produced by then little-known
Jim Henson, whose Sesame Street characters and ensuing
film and television career established him as the off-beat creative
genius of his time. The five circular screens arranged just behind
the host, presented an extremely funny animated cartoon explaining
the history of anti-friction engineering ...
... at the conclusion of which, the host
"popped his bearings" as only a Muppet could do.
Exiting from the theater, visitors had
one last look at SKF products and applications.
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