The United Nations Office at Vienna (UNOV) is one of the four major UN office locations worldwide, along with New York, Geneva, and Nairobi. UNOV plays a significant role in coordinating various UN activities and programs related to drugs, crime prevention, outer space, and more. The offices within its premises include the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), and some more.
While the primary focus of UNOV is on diplomatic and administrative functions, it does occasionally host art displays and exhibitions to promote culture and international understanding. Sometimes, we (hubby and kids) get to visit the temporary exhibitions. We’ve featured some of those through the years and the permanent displays at some point. But it has been so long ago that we haven’t.
So here are a few examples of art-related activities that have taken place at the United Nations Office in Vienna and the permanent art pieces installed inside and outside:
Art for Peace: The United Nations has a longstanding tradition of using art to promote peace and understanding among nations. UNOV has hosted various art exhibitions and displays that feature works of art with themes related to peace, human rights, and international cooperation. These exhibitions often include pieces from artists around the world, highlighting the universal nature of these themes.
Cultural Events: UNOV occasionally organizes cultural events that incorporate art as a means of cultural exchange. These events may include musical performances, dance shows, and art exhibitions that showcase the rich diversity of cultures from UN member states. Such events aim to foster mutual respect and appreciation among different cultures.
Special Exhibitions: From time to time, the United Nations in Vienna hosts special art exhibitions focused on specific topics or regions. These exhibitions may feature contemporary or traditional art forms and serve as a platform for artists to raise awareness about global issues such as climate change, human rights, and social justice.
Recently, we had the chance to be part of the exhibition Humanity, Agenda : Art for Peace. This exhibition’s theme perfectly captures the essence of Filipino (and of two other countries’) artistic expression and its dedication to fostering world peace and understanding.
There was another exhibit being set up while we were walking the grounds of the UNOV by a Latin American artist.
There was also Lakbay Sining (Art in Motion) back in 2018, the exhibit showcased works of talented and award-winning artists from the Philippines.
Permanent Art Collections: Some UN offices, including UNOV, have permanent art collections on display within their premises. These collections may include donated artworks from member states or renowned artists, representing a range of artistic styles and cultural backgrounds. These artworks contribute to the overall ambiance of the office and symbolize the values of the United Nations.
Some of those 150 pieces are the following:
– ‘Ho-o Raigi‘ sacred birds (Holy Birds Descending) by Japanese artist Sagenji Yoshida. This large piece of art occupies a big area of the lobby as you enter the UNOV’s Rotunda. Yoshida has another panoramic Ceramic relief called “Asakusa Festival” that can be found at the exit concourse of Asakusa Station, Tokyo Metro Ginza Line, Japan.
– Giselbert Hoke’s “Klagenfurter Kreuzigung” (Klagenfurt Crucifixion) which the Austrian artist finished in 1979. It was one of the 35 works commissioned from post-war Austrian artists for the Vienna International Centre.
– Hermann Nitsch’s “Aktionsmalerei 1962” (Action Painting 1962) is a representation of Nitsch’s radical approach to art, which blurred the lines between performance, ritual, and painting.
– Hansi Dietrich’s “Drinking Fountain” (2003). Presented to the United Nations by the city of Vienna on the occasion of the International year of Fresh water in 2003. The installation can be found at the center of an intersection going to the UN restaurant.
– Jan Matejko’s Astronomer Copernicus, or Conversations with God (a copy, donated in 2014) Copernicus’ chart of the heavens can already be seen at his side in the artwork – Matejko chose to represent him on a rooftop in his hometown of Frombork discussing the subject with God.
– The Link by Mina Sunar – is a gift given by Turkey on the International day of Peace in 1984. The sculpture features a woman holding a dove.
– Edwina Sands‘ Woman Free stands at the right side of the vast garden when you pass by the UNOV’s gate. It’s larger than life size is not easy to miss.
– The Scholars Pavilion, also known as the Scholars Chartagi, designed by Alireza Nazem Alroaya and constructed by Sadeh Architecture City Construction is a monument donated by Iran to the UNOV. The monument is a Persian Achaemenid architecture, with Persian columns and other Persepolis and Achaemenid relics. From pre-Islamic times to the present, the Chahartaq pavilion form has been used in Iranian architecture.
Inside the pavilion are statues of Central Asian medieval intellectuals Omar Khayyam, Al-Biruni, Rhazes, and Avicenna (Ibn-e-Sina or Pour Sina). This monument was donated in June 2009 to commemorate Iran’s peaceful scientific advances.
The availability of art displays and exhibitions at the United Nations Office in Vienna may vary over time, and the specific exhibitions on display during your visit would depend on the current programming and priorities of UNOV. If you plan to visit and are interested in art displays, it’s a good idea to check the UNOV website or contact their visitor services for information on any ongoing or upcoming exhibitions. You can also arrange for a tour at the UN, permanent art displays are around the vicinity.
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