Global perspective Human stories

UN Art and Gifts

As United Nations delegates and staff rush about their business every day, their stress may be at least slightly alleviated by their surroundings – the treasure-trove of paintings, tapestries, stained glass windows and ancient artefacts that enliven the corridors, conference rooms and grounds of the world body’s Headquarters in New York.

Representing every continent of the world, and spanning works from ancient artisans to modern painters and sculptors, the collection includes outstanding objects of antiquity, such as a ceremonial mantle from Peru; an amphora, or urn, from Cyprus; and a bronze statuette of the god Osiris, from Egypt – each estimated to be almost 3,000 years old.

From more recent times, the collection showcases the works of many of the leading painters and sculptors of the 20th century, including the "War and Peace" murals by Brazilian artist Candido Portinari; the stained glass "Peace Window" by French artist Marc Chagall; the sculpture "Anywanwu," symbolic of Africa rising, by Nigerian artist Ben Enwonwu; the knotted gun sculpture, "Non-Violence," by Swedish sculptor Carl Fredrik Reuterswärd; and the sculpture that extols nuclear disarmament, "Good Defeats Evil," by Georgian artist Zurab Tsereteli.

In this series of features – UN Art and Gifts – the UN News provides a unique look into the stories behind a selection of these works, in part through interviews with the artists, or with those who knew them, offering insights into the circumstances surrounding the creation of each work and its significance in the march of history.