The United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG) inherited a considerable number of works of art from the League of Nations, whose headquarters were in the same building, the Palais des Nations. Since the Second World War, and especially since 2010, this collection has grown remarkably, thanks to generous donations from United Nations Member States and international organizations.
Today, the collection comprises more than 1 000 original artworks reflecting an infinite variety: sculptures, murals, stained glasses, tapestries, prints, paintings, drawings, engravings, photographic prints, traditional national craftworks, furniture, textile, and even caricatures. This art collection is unique: whilst most museums concentrate on certain historical periods or schools of art, UNOG is not bound by such limitations.
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. The collection is a representation of artistic endeavor from all corners of the world.
Within the collection, artists have captured key UN values such as peace, human rights and environmental issues. The artworks celebrate and commemorate the positive spirit that underpins the work of the Organization and International Geneva. From a heritage perspective, the collection is a unique and precious part of the story of internationalism that began in Geneva in 1919..
Moratorium on artworks donations
In 2018, because of major renovations taking place in the Palais des Nations under the Strategic
Heritage Plan (SHP)
, UNOG implemented a moratorium on official artworks donations. When
all construction work has ended, Member States and international organizations will again be
able to present donation proposals to the Cultural Activities Committee. The Committee will
decide whether the proposed work is consistent with the principles of the United Nations, and
whether all practical requirements for its installation can be met.
Artworks shown at the Palais des Nations and Palais Wilson
The catalog of artworks on display, with their photographs, can be searched at: http://libraryresources.unog.ch/artworks
Examples of artworks from the collection
N.B. photographs are not scaled to the real size of represented artworks.
« Délibérations au sujet des îles Åland au Conseil de la Société des Nations à Genève en juin 1921 »
by F. Rackwitz.
« La construction du Palais des Nations »
(1937) by Massimo Campigli.
“The Dream of Peace”
(1939) by Henrik Sørensen.
(1946) First League of Nations High Commissioner for Refugees by Axel Revold.
Painted ceiling of Room XX
(2008) by Miquel Barceló.
“In Women’s Hands”
(2012) by Clara Garesio.
“Thoughts and Desires”
(2017) by Ali Ibadullayev and Salhab Mammadov.