European Culture, New York Flair

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

It’s the year of European Cultural Heritage, and on Monday, May 7, European Union delegates celebrated at the Frick Collection. The event was hosted by Ambassador João Vale de Almeida, Head of the European Union Delegation to the United Nations and featured a talk with Silvio Gonzato, European External Action Service Director, who introduced the European Year of Cultural Heritage program.

“More and more, we think the culture should be part of our foreign policy,” said Gonzato. “Because we see it as an opportunity to create a more neutral space where we can have a dialogue with other countries, sometimes countries with whom we have difficult relations. Through this dialogue, [we can] overcome certain prejudices and build positive [relations].”

Frick director Ian Wardropper opened the discussion by highlighting how the Frick Collection brings many aspects of European culture to New York. Bringing the theme of the evening into focus, he noted that the art in the museum is organized by the connections the pieces have to each other, as opposed to by country or time period. Gonzato then took the stage to talk about the UN’s mission to restore and protect cultural sites throughout Europe as a way of respecting Europe’s diversity and protecting a country’s individual identity, while at the same time promoting intercultural dialogue. The cultural heritage initiative emulates what the Frick Collection did during WWII, when members of the museum went to Europe to shield significant artwork from the crossfire.

The event also marked the anniversary of Europe Day, which traces its origins to May 9, 1950, when French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman presented his historic proposal for an integrated European coal and steel community, indispensable to the maintenance of peaceful relations. This proposal, known as the Schuman Declaration, is considered to be the founding document of what is now the European Union. Each year, the European Union Delegation to the United Nations hosts a celebration to mark Europe Day.

Guests included Ambassadors to the United Nations, Senior UN Officials, including UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed, European Union Consuls-General and cultural representatives, as well as friends like Frick Collection board member Mr. and Mrs. Aso Tavitian.


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