World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

United Nations Art Collection


United Nations Art Collection

Dove of Peace, presented by Pope John Paul II, on the occasion of his visit to the United Nations, 2 October 1979.

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][2]


  • Presentation of gifts by member states 1
  • Themes, functionality and symbolism 2
    • Representations of love, respect and peace 2.1
      • Chagall stained-glass window 2.1.1
      • Fernand Léger murals 2.1.2
      • Portinari's War and Peace 2.1.3
      • Golden rule mosaic 2.1.4
      • Japanese peace bell 2.1.5
      • Swords into plowshares statue 2.1.6
      • Sphere within a Sphere 2.1.7
      • Guernica 2.1.8
  • Conservation and maintenance 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5

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.[2][3][4]

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.[5]

Representations of love, respect and peace

Chagall stained-glass window

Chagall stained-glass

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.[6]

Fernand Léger murals

In 1952, a pair of Léger murals was installed in the General Assembly Hall of the United Nations headquarters in New York, New York.[7]

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 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".[8]

The Japanese Peace Bell at United Nations Headquarters, New York

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.[9][10][11]

Let Us Beat Swords into Plowshares by Yevgeny Vuchetich, 1959

Swords into plowshares statue

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.[12]

Sphere within a Sphere

Arnaldo Pomodoro, Sphere within a Sphere, 1996, United Nations, New York City

In 1996, Sphere within a Sphere by sculptor Arnaldo Pomodoro, was presented as a gift to the UN by Lamberto Dini, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Italy.[13]


A tapestry copy of Pablo Picasso's Guernica is displayed on the wall of the United Nations building in New York City, at the entrance to the Security Council room.[14]

Conservation and maintenance

The main entity responsible for the conservation of the collection is the UN Arts Committee.[2] 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.[15] However, about 50 gifts, partly close to dissolution, are stored in the basement; and in some cases, have been so for decades.[16]


  1. ^ Frommer's Review: United Nations, New York City Attractions, New York City, Travel Guides,, retrieved on: August 2, 2007
  2. ^ a b c Marks, Edward B. , UN Chronicle United Nations Publications (1998), Gale Group (2004) and, Winter 1998Art... At Home in the United Nations , retrieved on: August 2, 2007
  3. ^ Presentation of Malaysia's Gift to the United Nations, Speech by Dato' Seri Dr. Mahathir Bin Mohamad, New York, September 25, 2003,, retrieved on: August 2, 2007
  4. ^ The Director-General, Protocol and Liaison Service, United Nations Office at Geneva, (undated), retrieved on: August 2, 2007
  5. ^ Moore, Lawri Lala. Moorings: The World of United Nations Peoples, Disarmament Exhibit Steals Centre Stage,, 2002, retrieved on: August 2, 2007
  6. ^ Chagall Stained-Glass, United Nations Cyber School Bus, United Nations,, 2001, retrieved on: August 4, 2007
  7. ^ An 'element of inspiration and calm' at UN Headquarters - art in the life of the United Nations Retrieved October 13, 2010
  8. ^ Norman Rockwell Mosaic, United Nations Cyber School Bus, United Nations,, 2001, retrieved on: August 4, 2007
  9. ^ Japanese Peacebell, United Nations Cyber School Bus, United Nations,, 2001, retrieved on: August 2, 2007
  10. ^ UN Celebrates International Day of Peace, Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations,, 21 September, 2006, retrieved on: August 3, 2007
  11. ^ United Nations Peace Bell, New York UN Headquarters, and (undated), retrieved on: August 3, 2007
  12. ^ Swords Into Plowshares, United Nations Cyber School Bus, United Nations,, 2001, retrieved on: August 4, 2007
  13. ^ "Art and Architecture at the UN". Retrieved 9 August 2010. 
  14. ^ , Slate.comHidden Treasures: What's so controversial about Picasso's Guernica?David Cohen, Retrieved October 17, 2010
  15. ^ Maecenas World Patrimony Foundation,, 2005, retrieved on: August 2, 2007
  16. ^ Frithjof Ehm, "Art of the World. The Art Collection of the United Nations", in: Prague Leaders Magazine N° 1/2010, p. 77-79.

External links

Media related to at Wikimedia Commons

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.