“In gratitude for what has been achieved in ten years, and looking to the future full of confidence, I declare this event open.” With these words, Queen Juliana opened the E55 exhibition on 18 May 1955. After the huge success of Ahoy’, the same team staged another big event on the same site five years later: E55. The central theme was ‘the reconstruction of the destroyed city and the desire to overcome difficulties.’ E55 stands for National Energy Event — energy in the sense of a zest for life, willpower and industriousness to rebuild the country after the war and the flood disaster of 1953. Many companies seized the occasion to display new products and innovations to the public: television, aerospace and mining. In hindsight, in its design and concept, the event seemed to introduce the theme of nuclear energy, which was also at the heart of the Brussels World’s Fair in 1958 with its Atomium.
E55 stands for National Energy Event — energy in the sense of a zest for life, willpower and industriousness to rebuild the country after the war and the flood disaster of 1953.
To want is to succeed
The Ahoy’ Halls expanded with the addition of the Energy Hall. Besides a bridge, there was now a cableway across Westzeedijk. On the Bridge-of-Knowledge, designed by Paul Schuitema, various forms of education were displayed. On this occasion, again, many of the young artists and designers invited would later receive widespread recognition. They included Karel Appel, Constant Nieuwenhuys and Wim Crouwel. Karel Appel made a hundred-metre-long brightly coloured mural at the entrance on Mathenesserlaan. Constant Nieuwenhuys designed a fifteen-metre-tall steel structure, the ‘Symbol of Will and Work in the Netherlands’. Positioned on Westzeedijk was a forty-metre-tall Aeolus mast by Arie Jansma, which could move in the wind. Written on the counterweight was: “To want is to succeed”.
Karel Appel made a hundred-metre-long brightly coloured mural at the entrance on Mathenesserlaan.
All sorts of examples of Dutch industrial production were on view, including an oil pumping unit, a cooling tower, a colliery yard, bridges, aircraft and trains, a telephone exchange, and a gigantic model of the catchment area of the Rhine. The building theme was presented in prefabricated pavilions. Aerospace was depicted in the form of a sixty-metre-tall crane with open cradles, astronauts in space suits and a simulation of weightlessness. Agriculture and cattle breeding were concentrated in Het Park, which was also the site of pavilions representing the country’s eleven provinces. This time the entertainment centre consisted of an international collection of cafés and restaurants, of which Chalet Suisse is a remnant.
Aerospace was depicted in the form of a sixty-metre-tall crane with open cradles, astronauts in space suits and a simulation of weightlessness.
One innovation was a television studio, where visitors could watch programmes live. Televisions were positioned around the grounds. This is where Mies Bouwman launched her successful television career. Advertisements in particular were broadcast. For many Dutch people, this was their first encounter with this new phenomenon.
Let’s do a little E-ing
E55 was once again a public success. On Pentecost weekend it attracted some 60,000 visitors, and the whole event drew in over three million visitors. It was also a financial success.
Once more, Het Vrije Volk published a special festival newspaper. In it we read: The E-55 has already proven to be popular. But in our fast world, even this extremely short and attractive title appears too long. For in Rotterdam a new verb has already gained currency: E-ing. At least, we overheard the following: “Say, let’s do a little E-ing”.
Het Vrije Volk 30-5-1955