New York, 4 February 2015 – Browse the shelves at the United Nations bookstore. Mail a postcard with a UN stamp. Take a guided tour in one of twelve languages. Today, with the official inauguration by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the UN’s public space reopened for business with a newly renovated Visitors’ Centre in the basement of the iconic General Assembly Building.The Secretary-General surprised visitors by stopping at the bookstore, post office and even posing for a ‘selfie’ with visitors on a tour. At the bookstore, which reopened in a modern and minimalist space featuring a 90,300 piece Lego model of the UN Headquarters complex, Mr. Ban met with staff and bought merchandise, including a mug commemorating the world body’s upcoming 70th anniversary.
After 18 months of renovation, the UN Postal Administration (UNPA) Stamp Shop reopened in the General Assembly building where visitors can now buy postcards in three currencies – US dollar, Swiss franc and Euro – and send them with UN stamps.
Visitors will also be able to buy souvenirs and handcraft items from around the world at the newly renovated UN Gift Centre and grab a bite or beverage at the new Visitors’ Café. And guided tours are once again taking visitors to the newly refurbished General Assembly Hall, and all other renovated UN chambers can now be seen on the hour-long lecture tour.
“During the renovations, we were closed for the general public. People could only purchase a book, post a card, and visit the gift shop if they purchased a ticket for a tour online. Now, anyone is welcome to come in and purchase a book and also book a tour,” Vincenzo Pugliese, Manager of Guided Tours, told the UN News Centre today.
According to the tour office, up to 5,000 people go on tours every month at the United Nations. The tour office is expecting to increase that number by hiring more multilingual tour guides.
“We are working to revamp the tour route and introduce new audio-visual and interactive exhibits, including for children. The newly renovated space is much more open, bright and spacious. There’s a café and more space to accommodate people. The space is just more welcoming.”
The general public is welcome to enter the Visitors’ Centre with a Government issued photo ID.