Baha'i International Archives Building
Updated: Jul 26, 2020
“The design of the international Bahá’í Archives, the first stately Edifice destined to usher in the establishment of the World Administrative Centre of the Faith on Mt. Carmel—the Ark referred to by Bahá’u’lláh in the closing passages of His Tablet of Carmel—has been completed, . . .” - Shoghi Effendi
“On the occasion of the Naw-Rúz Festival . . . I joyfully announce the commencement of the excavation for the foundations of the International Archives heralding the rise of the first edifice destined to inaugurate the establishment of the seat of the World Bahá’í Administrative order in the Holy Land.” - Shoghi Effendi
The International Archives is the first building to be built on the Arc and holds the collection of personal relics of Bahá'u'lláh, the Báb and 'Abdu'l-Bahá, original manuscripts and Tablets in the handwriting of Bahá'u'lláh and the Báb, and other items associated with the Bahá’í Faith, but most importantly is built for the viewing of the paintings and drawings of Bahá’u’lláh and the Báb, along with a single photograph of Bahá’u’lláh. Although some of these items are available on the internet today, most Bahá’ís prefer to see these items only in a reverent atmosphere, during the pilgrimage. Shoghi Effendi wanted to display these in a way in which they could be viewed reverentially by visiting Baha'is.
Before the completion of the International Archives building in 1957 these mementoes were housed in three rooms adjoining the Shrine of the Báb (the 'Major' Archives) and, later, also in a small house in the gardens near the monument to the Greatest Holy Leaf (the Minor Archives).
Shoghi Effendi announced his decision to build the International Archives building in 1952 and by 1954 work was under way. Shoghi Effendi chose the Parthenon as the basis for the design possibly due to the apparent enduring beauty even after thousands of years. The capitals of the fifty columns were Ionic rather than the Doric Order. It has a green tiled roof and measures 32 X 14 metres and is 12 metres high. It was finished in 1957 however Shoghi Effendi never lived to furnish the interior. It was while he was staying in London to purchase furnishings for the newly-completed building that he passed away. This was left to his wife Rúhíyyih Khanum. The interior consists of a large display hall with a surrounding balcony. A large extension connected to the basement of the original building has been constructed as part of the current Arc buildings.