1958 World’s Fair - Brussels, Belgium


Visited by more than 42 million people, the Brussels World’s Fair or Brussels Universal and International Exhibition (held from 17 April to 19 October 1958, called Expo 58) was the first of this kind, since the New York World’s Fair in 1939. The theme of the Exhibition had been stated by Baron Moens de Ferning, the Belgian Government’s Commissioner General for the Exhibition as Man on the Threshold of a new Era or Balance sheet for a more human world (in French: Le Progrès et l'Homme or Bilan du monde pour un monde plus humain), or an anthropological view of the world (as per poster stamp at the opposite left); designed by Jacques Richez (1918-1994), this is the official logo label issued by the Organizing Committee for the 1958 Brussels world fair.

The emblem of the Brussels World Fair (Expo 58) was an off-centred five-pointed star, representing the 5 continents, with the tower of the Brussels’ City Hall in its centre, the earth and the numerals 58. Each branch of the star represents a continent. Lucien de Roeck, Belgium won the competition to design the logo for the exhibition.

The mark of the Expo 58 was the Atomium (see on the left), a giant aerial structure of 102 m. high (weight: 2,400 tons) with nine spheres (diameter: 18 m.) representing the atom of an iron crystal 165 billion times magnified. Made entirely of steel, the structure stands on three enormous bipods and dominates the Heysel plateau. Its nine large spheres connected by twenty tubes are arranged in the configuration of a central cubic system. The Atomium was not intended to survive the Exhibition of 1958; however, its popularity and success ensured its place as a major landmark on the Brussels skyline. Engineer André Waterkeyn, Belgium, was the designer of this masterpiece; the Architects were André et Jean Polak. It was renovated during 2003-2006.


In 1953, Belgium won the bid for the next World's Fair, winning out over other European capitals such as Paris and London. This would mark Belgium’s 6th time hosting the international event, a monumental one in fact, as it would be the first one held after WWII. With the devastation of two World Wars, Belgium’s intent to deliver a progressive exposition set the tone for the event, and Expo 58 would be seen as the headlining platform to symbolize peace among participants. Nearly 15,000 workers spent three years building the 2 km2 site on the Heysel plateau, 7 kilometres northwest of central Brussels, Belgium. Many of the buildings were re-used from the Brussels International Exposition of 1935, which had been held on the same site. 41.5 million visitors came to Belgium for the 1958 exposition, making Expo 58 the second largest World’s Fair after the 1900 Exposition Universelle et Internationale de Paris. Forty-eight nations took part in Expo 58, with more than forty-five national pavilions. The theme of modernization was envisaged through building a model utopia, complete with elaborate pavilions housing the best technological advancements and discoveries at the time. Each nation planned to deliver a unique agenda to be housed within their futuristic abode. Beyond milestone advancements in science, Expo 58 also boasted cultural exhibitions, including a collection spotlighting the beginning of modern art and numerous activities and workshops that championed achievements in art and music.


Belgium released a set of ten regular stamps and a set of six airmail stamps for the Brussels World Fair; so, the issue consists of a total of 16 stamps, issued for the purpose of financing the UN pavilion during the 1958 Brussels World’s Fair. More background information on this stamp can be found by clicking on the following links: Belgium - World's Fair, Brussels and Belgium UN Stamp: Unusual Design.


Iconic poster designed by Jacques Richez for Expo 58. Full sheet of 16 labels.


Belgium – First day cover - United Nations issue.

World's Fair, Brussels - Expo 58 (17 April to 19 October 1958).


Art Craft First Day Cover showing the US Pavilion at the exhibition.


United Nations illustrated stationery cover. Cancel dated 17 April 1958.


The United Nations Day at the Exhibition was celebrated on 26 June 1958, corresponding to the ending of the United Nations Conference on International Organization (UNCIO) held at San Francisco in 1945.





UN Pavilion (postcards) at the World’s Fair and ICAO’s booth in this UN pavilion.

The pavilion of the United Nations and the Specialized Agencies (Architect: Hugo Van Kuyck) consisted of a cupola 50 feet high and about 160 feet diameter, cast in concrete on smooth wooden frames; a cinema showed a special color film on international civil aviation.





Excerpt from the ICAO Bulletin.










16-Pages pamphlet available at ICAO’s counter during the Brussels Universal and International Exhibition.

The texts in this brochure were printed in three languages: English, French and Dutch.