The United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG) inherited a considerable number of works of art from the League of Nations, whose headquarters were located in the same building, the Palais des Nations. Since the Second World War, and especially during the past decade, this collection has grown remarkably thanks to generous donations from United Nations Member States. Today, the collection comprises sculptures, frescoes, stained glass panels, tapestries, paintings, portrait drawings, engravings, prints, posters and even caricatures.
The UNOG art collection as a whole is unique. Whilst most museums concentrate on certain historical periods or particular schools of art, UNOG is not bound by such limitations. Here at the Palais des Nations the collection reflects an infinite variety, including works by contemporary artists from many different countries, examples of traditional national art, pieces of ancient art and paintings and murals in the European classical tradition.
Within the United Nations, art does not exist only for its aesthetic values. It also serves one of the Organization's major goals, the promotion of the unity of humankind in all its cultural diversity.
Every year, the art collection of UNOG is enriched by donations from Member States of the Organization. Proposals for donations are presented to the Cultural Activities Committee, which decides whether the proposed work is consistent with the principles of the United Nations, and whether the practical requirements for its installation can be met.
In 2008, the Government of Spain sponsored the renovation of a conference room, which became the Human Rights and Alliance of Civilizations Room. The main feature of the renovated room is a ceiling sculpture by the prominent contemporary Spanish artist Miquel Barceló. The new dome consists of many layers of paint of different colours, composed of pigments from across the globe and sprayed onto the ceiling to generate stalactites. The sculpture is groundbreaking both artistically and technically.
Inauguration of the Human Rights and Alliance of Civilizations Room.
In recent years, the number of donations has grown as a result of the increased importance of the cultural activities programme.