Concept artwork for the Johnson Wax Pavilion as it would appear at the 1964-65 New York World's Fair.
Image Source: Scan of image from my personal copy of the official New York World's Fair Guidebook.



"This pavilion, a great gold disk which seems to float 24 feet above the ground, is supported by its surrounding columns.  It houses a 500-seat theater in which a documentary movie dramatizes the theme of brotherhood.  An exhibition at ground level offers a climbing contraption for the entertainment of children, a home care information center and a shoeshine center that provides free shines.  On the ground floor is a display which shows the wide range of materials man has used as floors, from marble to teakwood.  Pavilion guides are foreign students.

Highlights
'To Be Alive.'  This sensitive 18-minute color movie, produced by Francis Thompson,  whose documentaries have won many awards, uses three projectors, as many screens, and stereophonic sound to show the daily lives of people around the world.  They grow up, fall in love, work, play and grow old, demonstrating that "men everywhere share at the deepest level the same drives, dreams, foibles."

Child Entertainment Center. Grown-ups can watch while children climb through a 'fun machine' - a mazelike device full of mirrors that fracture images, squeeze-bulbs that emit strange noises and cranks that operate robots.

Shoeshine Center.  Ten polishing machines operating simultaneously can buff the shoes of 300 visitors an hour."




The Golden Rondelle as it appears today on the SC Johnson campus in Racine, Wisconsin.

At the conclusion of The Fair, the "Golden Rondelle", the floating disk-like theater of the pavilion, was carefully dismantled and shipped to Johnson Wax's headquarters in Racine, Wisconsin.  There, the team of architects at Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin were employed to design a new structure for the Rondelle which would be more akin to the rest of the buildings on the campus.  The result was an odd combination of Frank Lloyd Wright's classic architecture and the space-age design of Johnson Wax's World's Fair pavilion.

Where a reflecting pool once existed under the Golden Rondelle, a nice shaded plaza now stands.  Benches provide a place for people to rest before entering the building for one of SC Johnson's presentations or their monthly showing of the pavilion's original film, "To Be Alive!".

Inside the Golden Rondelle, the theater looks pretty much exactly as it did during The Fair.  Red carpet and red upholstery are used throughout.  The projection room for the theater has experienced upgrades and a new print of "To Be Alive!" was commissioned in recent years to ensure this timeless film is available for future generations.

Also of important note is that the film, "To Be Alive!" went on to win an Academy Award for "Documentary Short Subject"  the year after The Fair closed, in 1966!



This relic of the World's Fair is regularly maintained by the team at SC Johnson's headquarters.  The team which manages the building is well-informed of the Golden Rondelle's history and definitely appreciate its contribution to the World's Fair community.

Tours of the campus each week include the Golden Rondelle and also include a brief history lesson about the importance of the theater.  Monthly showings of "To Be Alive!" ensure that this pavilion maintains much of its original World's Fair purpose, even if the exterior has undergone some cosmetic changes.



Visit the Golden Rondelle on days when "To Be Alive!" is showing.  This World's Fair relic is very active as a venue for community presentations as well as showings of two films created for the theater.  There is activity there almost daily.



Here are some photos I took during my visit to the Golden Rondelle in July (2017).



The original New York World's Fair Guidebook full-page ad for the Johnson Wax pavilion and "To Be Alive!"


The Golden Rondelle out in front of the SC Johnson campus.  Note the Frank Lloyd Wright tower behind.


As we approach, we see children entering for one of SC Johnson's many educational programs.


Where a reflecting pool once was, a tranquil courtyard now exists for people to use while waiting to enter the Golden Rondelle for one of their presentations.  To the right, you see the exit doors.  The entrance doors, lobby, and staircase to the theater are on the left.


The Taliesin-designed lobby.  The stairs to the Golden Rondelle are ahead and to the right, just past the display cabinet which contains vintage and current SC Johnson products.  The artwork on the walls includes original photos of the pavilion at the New York World's Fair, concept artwork, and the original attraction posters for the Golden Rondelle.


The original concept artwork for the pavilion as it would be seen at the New York World's Fair.


The original attraction posters for the Golden Rondelle.


Inside the Golden Rondelle Theater.  Behind the curtains you'll find the three screens needed to present the original World's Fair attraction film "To Be Alive!".


So excited to have been able to go inside the Golden Rondelle!


Thanks fo visiting the Johnson Wax pavilion's Golden Rondelle with me!




Visitors to the Golden Rondelle may reserve a seat for a showing of "To Be Alive!" by visiting their page here.  It is highly recommended that you arrive early so you may take in the beauty of the architecture before heading inside the theater.

Tours of the entire SC Johnson campus, which was designed by famous architect Frank Llloyd Writght are also available throughout the month.  A link to tour times is available on the page linked above.



Enjoy this low-quality, single-screen version of "To Be Alive!" which was found on YouTube.  Remember, the film is a three-screen program, so you are missing out on most of the presentation here...it is definitely worth it to go see the entire film for yourself in the Golden Rondelle if you can!


Source: YouTube



The following individuals contributed towards making it possible for me to visit and document this relic of the 1964-65 New York World's Fair.  I'd like to take a moment to thank them for helping make my dream to personally visit the remaining parts of the New York World's Fair pavilions come true!

Reesa Martin
Michelle and Markist from the SC Johnson Golden Rondelle

This page is hereby dedicated to these individuals.