UNESCO Shows Art Treasures to the Public
By A. D. McKenzie

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Thor's Story By Erró

Thor's Story
By Erró

Museums in Paris will open their doors late into the evening on May 15 for the “European Night of Museums,” and a special participant will be UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization).

The organization is opening up part of its vast art collection to the public for the second time, with the event having particular significance this year as 2010 is the UN-designated International Year for the Rapprochement of Cultures.

Visitors will be able to view works by famous artists from around the world at UNESCO’s Paris headquarters (7, place de Fontenoy, 7th arrondissement) and take guided tours in French and English, from 8 p.m. to midnight.

UNESCO is home to more than 600 works by artists such as Picasso, Moore, Miro, Calder, Giacometti, and many others, and among the main attractions are Picasso’s largest-ever painting, “The Fall of Icarus,” and one of Moore’s most impressive sculptures – “Reclining Figure.”

“What’s interesting is that renovation of our building just finished last September and now the Henry Moore sculpture is visible,” said Raya Fayad, a spokesperson for UNESCO’s Works of Art and Special Projects Unit. “It wasn’t visible last year.”

Art lovers will also get to see the bold, colorful canvas of Icelandic artist Erró as well as the garden and fountain created by Japanese craftsman Isamu Noguchi. “The Symbolic Globe,” created by Danish artist Eric Reitzel, has become a city landmark since it was erected beside the UNESCO building in 1995. Its shape and simplicity form a curious counterpoint to the Eiffel Tower in the background.

The art collection began in the late 1950s when UNESCO’s headquarters was inaugurated in Paris, according to Fayad. The organization commissioned works from the contemporary artists of the time to “embellish” the building. Since then the collection has grown through donations from member states. Now UNESCO’s headquarters “currently owns the largest artistic heritage within the United Nations.”

We wish to thank A. D. McKenzie for her contribution to the Paris Insights blog.