Snapshots frozen in time. A century of Poznań trade fairs

It is hard to imagine today's Poznań without the grounds of the Poznań International Fair, a celebrated venue of major trade fairs, conferences, concerts and prestigious international events. Its century-long history has been inextricably linked with that of Poznań.

Black and white photo of a fair building - a spire which is a symbol of Poznań fair. In a foreground a sphere bearing the fair logo. - grafika artykułu
A spire with a distinctive sphere bearing the PIF logo designed by Jan Olejniczak in 1955, photo from 1973. Photograph courtesy of the archive of Grupa MTP.

That history features the General National Exhibition, which at the time was Poland's largest re­curring event of its kind. In the 1930s, the fair ranked as Europe's 4th largest organiser of international trade events. Its stellar rise was thwarted by World War II, which left more than 80% of its exhibition infrastructure demolished by air raids. An austere post-war period ensued. Not even this stunted the development of the trade shows, which rapidly expanded its exhibitions and the facilities in which to hold them. In fact, the growth was so fast that the fair found itself running out of space and forced to move some of its exhibitions off the fairgrounds proper to remote venues such as Lake Kierskie, Ed­wardów, Wilson Park, Lake Malta, the Arena Sports Hall and the Naramowice district. Notably, in June 1956, trade fair visitors became involuntary witnesses to historic worker protests. In the subsequent years, the fair continued to assert its eminent role in the Polish and European exhibition industry, be­coming people's first association with the city.

The Poznań International Fair is more than the thousands of events it organises. It is also a company whose eventful hundred-year history is comprised of enough stories to fill the records of a host of other such enterprises. It was brim-full of emotions, delights and pride and marked with a passion for the organisation of meetings. It has brought together people from many cultures and languages, exhibi­tors, visitors and staff members alike, all of whom have contributed to shaping this place for decades.

Snapshots Frozen in Time: A Century of Poznań Trade Fairs is a display of photos that capture this history and have the power to trigger viewer's memories.

The images contained herein are provided courtesy of the archive of Grupa MTP.

History timeline of the Poznań International Fair

1921: The first edition of the Poznań Trade Fair, which later becomes the Poznań International Fair, is held between 28 May and 5 June at the initiative of Poznań merchants.

1927: Poznań International Fair becomes a founding member of UFI, the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry.

1929: The Universal National Exhibition (PWK), organised at the initiative of Cyryl Ratajski, offers an overview of Poland's economic and cultural achievements. Its grounds, which extended over an area of 65 hectares, were visited by 4.5 mil­lion people.

1946: The first post-war national "Home and Garden" exhibition

1947: The first post-war PIF show, the 20th Poznań International Fair

1955: Reconstruction of the post-war remains of the Upper Silesian Tower, which took the shape of the Spire

1956: A general strike against the communist rule breaks out in Poznań. The events of 28 June un­fold in front of thousands of Polish and interna­tional fair visitors.

1973: The traditional June event is divided into the June International Technology Fair and the September TAKON International Consumer Goods Fair.

1978: New specialised trade events: Salmed, Poligrafia, Drema, Intermasz, and Budma, are established.

1990: The Poznań International Fair becomes a limited liability company with a State Treasury share.

2015: The city of Poznań acquires all shares in the Poznań International Fair.

2018: The Poznań International Fair joins PIF Group. It launches a long-term strategy of portfolio build­ing, international expansion and new development.

2021: Celebrations of the trade fair's centennial.

written by the Editors

translation: Krzysztof Kotkowski

  • Snapshots frozen in time. A century of Poznań trade fairsan exhibition in the Poznań Fotoplastykon
  • Centrum Informacji Kulturalnej (Cultural Information Centre), ul. F. Ratajczaka 44
  • 1.10.2021 - 31.01.2022; opening hours: Monday - Friday 10 am - 6 pm, Saturday 10 am - 5 pm, Sunday closed, last admission 1 hour before closing time
  • tickets: regular admission - 5 pln, reduced admission - 2 pln, family tickets - 10 pln, group tickets (groups of 10 or more) - 20 pln

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