The SKF Pavilion & Exhibits


Gallery & Narrative by Barry Howard

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.

Pavilon from US Rubber

Not to be outdone by the more generously budgeted industrial pavilions, exterior signage announced the availability of a free show within.

Show advertisement

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 ...

Kids watch Ball Bearing exhibit

Bearing exhibit

Interior exhibits

... while the latter presented a variety of bearing types beneath images of their use.

Displays of Bearing usage

The theater marquee directed visitors to the theater and counted down to the next show.

Theater entrance

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" ...

"The Host" of the SKF show

... 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 ...

SKF show scene

SKF Show scene

SKF Show scene

SKF Show scene

... 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.

Exibits at show exit

PLEASE NOTE: All photographic images on this page are the property of Barry Howard and may not be used without permission from the owner. Please observe copyright.

SKF at the New York World's Fair
Project Credits

Project Director for SKF Industries, Frank White

Project Design, Barry Howard Limited (originally, The Displayers, Inc. 1964; Imaginetics, Inc. 1965) in both cases Barry Howard, Principal

Project Architects, Pisani and Falco, Frank Pisani, Principal

Show Credits:
      Animated Host, Jim Hensen
      Art Direction, Burr Smidt
      Animation, Paul Glickman
      Music, Lan Okun
      Vocal, Kaye Ballard

Special thanks to Mr. Barry Howard, President/Creative Director of Barry Howard Limited of Malibu, California, for providing the images and narrative for this Feature at A pioneer in the field of interpretive design, Mr. Howard has achieved national prominence through the creation and design of countless museums, visitor centers, attractions and major exhibits for thirty years. Over the course of his career, Mr. Howard has brought his skills to bear on a wide variety of projects, from this country's most successful Bicentennial exhibition, The American Freedom Train, to the National Automobile Museum in Reno -- from the world-renowned California State Railroad Museum to an award-winning multi-video production for United Technologies for EPCOT Center in Orlando, Florida. Under his direction, his office has been responsible for major World's Fair Pavilions at New York, Montreal, Osaka, Seattle, Spokane, New Orleans and Taejon, Korea. We are very pleased to welcome Mr. Howard to and would like to thank him for his contributions here.

Webmaster's note: Thanks also to Bradd Schiffman who arranged for the appearance of Mr. Howard's presentation.


More ContentMore Content