United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization

Director-General opens symposium and inaugurates American History and Culture Week at UNESCO

On 30 September 2008, the Director of UNESCO, Mr Koďchiro Matsuura, together with the Ambassador of the United States to UNESCO, Mrs Louise Oliver, opened a symposium on ‘Picturing America’ and inaugurated American History and Culture Week at UNESCO (30 September to 7 October).

The weeklong celebration centers on the ‘Picturing America’ exhibit, a collection of 40 printed representations of some of the country’s greatest works of art. The exhibit enables viewers to gain insights into the principles, ideals and aspirations that have animated American history since its founding and before.

The Director-General began his intervention by thanking Ambassador Oliver for this initiative, and welcoming Bruce Cole, Chairman, National endowment for the Humanities, an institution that is at the origin of the ‘Picturing America’ project, and Dr Anne-Imelda Radice, Director, Institute of Museum and Library Services for coming to UNESCO and presenting ‘Picturing America’. “The exhibit is an engaging way for youth and adults alike to learn more about the United States and its history through art,” noted Mr Matsuura.

After welcoming the performance of Tha Boyz, a Native American chant group, Mr Matsuura noted these “living expressions and the traditions that countless groups and communities worldwide have inherited from their ancestors and transmitted to their descendants, in many cases orally” were something that UNESCO attached great importance to. In that context, he encouraged the United States to ratify the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, noting with pleasure that “encouragement may be taken from the recent progress that the United States has made towards the ratification of another very important UNESCO Convention, the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict.”

The Director-General went on to highlight that Native American traditions were also portrayed in the “Picturing America” exhibit through Black Hawk’s “Sans Arc Lakota” Ledger book, along with representations of America’s great leaders, such as George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, and important works illustrating American democracy such as Norman Rockwell’s Freedom of Speech.

Mr Matsuura concluded his intervention by noting that the event and the week-long exhibit were “a great opportunity to celebrate American culture in all its diversity.”

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Author(s): Office of the Spokesperson - Source: Flash Info N° 130-2008 -  Publication Date: 03-10-2008

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