‘Golden Rule,’ iconic Norman Rockwell mosaic, rededicated at UN Headquarters

5 February 2014

A mosaic based a on a work by American artist Norman Rockwell, long a favourite attraction on tours of the United Nations in New York, has been re-dedicated following its restoration during the reconstruction of the Headquarters complex.

Entitled “Golden Rule,” the work was presented to the UN in 1985 as a gift on behalf of the United States by then First Lady Nancy Reagan. The half-ton mosaic depicts people of different nationalities standing together with the words “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” inscribed on the surface.

Speaking at the rededication ceremony yesterday, Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson ascribed the popularity of the work to its embrace both of multiculturalism and the idealism at the core of the United Nations.

“It reflects humanity – the wondrous mix of nationalities, creeds and colours,” Mr. Eliasson said.

“But it also reflects the very essence of our mission as set out in our Charter,” he added.

“At its core, the work is about narrowing the gap between the world as it is and the world as we want it to be,” he said.

Noting that the ethic described by the Golden Rule is common to numerous traditions, he cited a number of maxims, from the biblical “Love thy neighbour as thyself,” to the Yoruba “One taking a pointed stick to pinch a baby bird should first try it on himself to feel how it hurts.”

At the rededication, Mr. Eliasson also announced that the world Organization is currently in conversation with the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts on bringing to Headquarters a little-known Rockwell work called “The United Nations,” sketched years before the “Golden Rule” was painted.

“It is a remarkable piece – stretching eight feet and depicting members of the Security Council and the UN flag flanked by dozens of representatives of humanity,” he said.

Meanwhile, the “Golden Rule,” its cracks repaired, is back on view on the third floor of the Conference Building in the UN Headquarters complex.


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