United Nations Art Collection
The United Nations Art Collection is a collective group of artworks and historic objects donated as gifts to the United Nations by its member states, associations, or individuals. These artistic treasures and possessions, mostly in the form of “sculptures, paintings, tapestries and mosaics”, are representative “arts of nations” that are contained and exhibited within the confines of the United Nations Headquarters in New York City, USA, and other duty stations, making the UN and its international territories a "fine small museum".
- 1 Presentation of gifts by member states
- 2 Themes, functionality and symbolism
- 3 Conservation and maintenance
- 4 References
- 5 External links
Presentation of gifts by member states
Member states follow a protocol for presenting official gifts to the United Nations. Procedures, speeches, and ceremonies, such as the unveiling of these gifts, are conducted and coordinated by the Protocol and Liaison Service. Ideally, every member nation can only present one offering, and member nations are responsible for the installation of the offered artifacts.
Themes, functionality and symbolism
The official gifts to the United Nations by its member states epitomize the ideals, significance and values of the UN as an international organization.
Representations of love, respect and peace
Chagall stained-glass window
In 1964, a 15 foot by 12 foot stained glass window by Marc Chagall was donated to the United Nations by its own staff members and by Chagall himself to commemorate Dag Hammarskjöld, who served as United Nations Secretary-General from 1953 until his death in 1961. The stained glass memorial contains many symbols representing love and peace themes.
Fernand Léger murals
Portinari's War and Peace
Two huge murals by Brazilian artist Cândido Portinari, entitled Guerra e Paz (War and Peace) can be found at the delegates hall. Portinari intended to execute the work in the United States. However, his visa was denied due to his communist convictions. He decided to paint them in Rio de Janeiro, and they were latter assembled in the headquarters. After their completion in 1957, Portinari, who was already ill when he started the masterpiece, succumbed to lead poisoning from the pigments his doctors advised him to abandon.
Golden rule mosaic
In 1985, as a representative of the United States, then first lady Nancy Reagan presented a mosaic to the United Nations to celebrate the organization's 40th anniversary. The Golden Rule mosaic was a creation of Venetian artists and was based on a painting by Norman Rockwell. Depicting people of all races, religion, creed and hue, the mosaic imparts the message to "do unto others as you would have them do unto you".
Japanese peace bell
A symbol of peace, the Japanese Peace Bell was a gift of the people of Japan to the United Nations (1954), and is rung at two different times a year: on the first day of Spring and on every opening day in September of the annual sessions of the General Assembly. The bell is also sounded on special occasions such as when the United Nation celebrated the International Day of Peace on September 21, 2006. The bell was also rung on October 4, 1966 to mark the one-year anniversary of Pope Paul VI's visit to the United Nations Headquarters in New York City.
In 1959, a bronze statue promoting the slogan "Let Us Beat Swords into Plowshares" was donated by the Soviet Union to the United Nations. It was sculpted by Evgeniy Vuchetich to represent the human wish to end all wars by converting the weapons of death and destruction into peaceful and productive tools that are more beneficial to mankind.
Sphere within a Sphere
Conservation and maintenance
The main entity responsible for the conservation of the collection is the UN Arts Committee. The United Nations is assisted, through a special mandate and regulations, by fundraising groups such as the Maecenas World Patrimony Foundation in this endeavor of preserving these artistic and international heritages. However, about 50 gifts, partly close to dissolution, are stored in the basement; and in some cases, have been so for decades.
- Frommer's Review: United Nations, New York City Attractions, New York City, Travel Guides, NYTimes.com, retrieved on: August 2, 2007
- Marks, Edward B. Art... At Home in the United Nations, UN Chronicle United Nations Publications (1998), Gale Group (2004) and FindArticles.com, Winter 1998[dead link], retrieved on: August 2, 2007
- Presentation of Malaysia's Gift to the United Nations, Speech by Dato' Seri Dr. Mahathir Bin Mohamad, New York, September 25, 2003, PMO.gov, retrieved on: August 2, 2007
- The Director-General, Protocol and Liaison Service, United Nations Office at Geneva, UNOG.ch (undated), retrieved on: August 2, 2007
- Moore, Lawri Lala. Moorings: The World of United Nations Peoples, Disarmament Exhibit Steals Centre Stage, UN.org, 2002, retrieved on: August 2, 2007
- Chagall Stained-Glass, United Nations Cyber School Bus, United Nations, UN.org, 2001, retrieved on: August 4, 2007
- An 'element of inspiration and calm' at UN Headquarters - art in the life of the United Nations[dead link] Retrieved October 13, 2010
- Norman Rockwell Mosaic, United Nations Cyber School Bus, United Nations, UN.org, 2001, retrieved on: August 4, 2007
- Japanese Peacebell, United Nations Cyber School Bus, United Nations, UN.org, 2001, retrieved on: August 2, 2007
- UN Celebrates International Day of Peace, Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations, UN.int, 21 September, 2006, retrieved on: August 3, 2007
- United Nations Peace Bell, New York UN Headquarters, WowZone.com and Earthsite.org (undated), retrieved on: August 3, 2007
- "Art and Architecture at the UN". Retrieved 9 August 2010.
- David Cohen, Hidden Treasures: What's so controversial about Picasso's Guernica?, Slate.com Retrieved October 17, 2010
- Maecenas World Patrimony Foundation, CelestialSphere.ch, 2005, retrieved on: August 2, 2007
- Frithjof Ehm, "Art of the World. The Art Collection of the United Nations", in: Prague Leaders Magazine N° 1/2010, p. 77-79.
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