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Headquarters’ temporary home at the Hotel Majestic

@ UNESCO Headquarters’ temporary home at the Hotel Majestic

The Hotel Majestic on the Avenue Kléber in Paris was UNESCO’s temporary home until 1958, when it moved to its present headquarters on the Place de Fontenoy.

On 16 September 1946, the Preparatory Commission for UNESCO moved from London to the Hotel Majestic on the Avenue Kléber in Paris, which had been given a quick refit following its liberation from the German occupation. Working conditions were not exactly ideal. The largest bedrooms were allocated to secretaries, several of whom had to share them and store their files in the wardrobes, while middle-grade professionals were put in disused bathrooms, where the only place to keep their papers was the bathtub.

The construction of UNESCO Headquarters

© UNESCO The construction of UNESCO Headquarters

Located on the Place de Fontenoy, in Paris, the main building which houses the Headquarters of UNESCO was inaugurated on 3 November 1958. The Y-shaped design was invented by three architects of different nationalities under the direction of an international committee.

Nicknamed the ‘three-pointed star’, the entire edifice stands on seventy-two columns of concrete piling. It is world famous, not only because it is the home of a well-known organization but also because of its outstanding architectural qualities. There, you can find the UNESCO Publishing bookshop, which features all sales publications in stock, plus a large philatelic and numismatic collection, and a growing UNESCO-related gifts section.  

The construction of the second building

© UNESCO The construction of the second building

Three more buildings complete the headquarters site. The second building, known affectionately as the "accordion", holds the egg-shaped hall with a pleated copper ceiling where the plenary sessions of the General Conference are held. The third building is in the form of a cube. Lastly, a fourth construction consists of two office floors hollowed out below street level, around six small sunken courtyards. The buildings, which contain many remarkable works of art, are open to the public.

As soon as the architectural plans for the site at the Place de Fontenoy had been approved, UNESCO commissioned a number of great artists to create works to adorn the future premises. In some cases, the works are also intended to evoke the peace that the institution has sought to establish and preserve throughout the world. Over the years, other works were acquired. Some were donated to the Organization by various Member States. Picasso, Bazaine, Miro, Tapiès, Le Corbusier and many other artists, both famous and unknown, all have their place in this universal museum that echoes the diversity of artistic creation throughout the world.

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