The Department has collections of art objects, furnishings, books, and buildings that are considered heritage or multi-use heritage assets. These collections are housed in the Diplomatic Reception Rooms, senior staff offices in the Secretary’s suite, offices, reception areas, conference rooms, the cafeteria and related areas, and embassies throughout the world. The items have been acquired as donations, are on loan from the owners, or were purchased using gift and appropriated funds. The assets are classified into six categories: the Diplomatic Reception Rooms, Art Bank, Art in Embassies, Curatorial Services Program, Library Rare & Special Book Collection, and Secretary of State’s Register of Culturally Significant Property. Items in the Register of Culturally Significant Property category are classified as multi-use heritage assets due to their use in general government operations.
Under the management of the Curator’s Office, the Diplomatic Reception Room collection is comprised of museum-caliber American furnishings from the 1750 to 1825 period. These items are used to decorate the Diplomatic Reception Rooms located on the 8th floor of the Department of State, as well as 19 offices on the 7th floor used by the Secretary of State and the Secretary’s senior staff. These items have been acquired through donations or purchases funded through gifts from private citizens, foundations, and corporations. Tax dollars have not been used to acquire or maintain the collection.
The Art Bank was established in 1984 to acquire artworks that could be displayed throughout the Department’s offices and annexes. The works of art are displayed in staff offices, reception areas, conference rooms, the cafeteria, and related public areas. The collection consists of original works on paper (watercolors and pastels) as well as limited edition prints, such as lithographs, woodcuts, intaglios, and silk-screens. These items are acquired through purchases funded by contributions from each participating bureau.
Art Bank works include “Untitled,” a 2003 monotype by Judith Linhares (right), and “Forever is Both Ways for All Time,” a 2007 intaglio by Chris Johanson (above).
In recent years, the Library has identified books that require special care or preservation. Many of these publications have been placed in the Rare Books and Special Collections Room, which is located adjacent to the Reading Room. Among the treasures is a copy of the Nuremberg Chronicles, which was printed in 1493; volumes signed by Thomas Jefferson; and books written by Foreign Service authors.
The Curatorial Services Program, which is managed by the Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations, Interiors & Furnishings Division, Program Management Branch, is responsible for identifying and maintaining cultural objects owned by the Department in its properties abroad. The collections are identified based upon their historic importance, antiquity, or intrinsic value.
Jerry Hovanec, Persimmon with Pulled Stem-Cap 1998, Persimmon with Copper Stem-Cap 1997, and Untitled/Persimmon Vessel 1997, (17 x 13 x 13 cm) blown glass. Courtesy of the artist, Lusby, Maryland
The Art in Embassies Program was established in 1964 to promote national pride and the distinct cultural identity of America’s arts and its artists. The program, which is managed by the Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations, provides original U.S. works of art for the representational rooms of United States ambassadorial residences worldwide. The works of art were purchased or are on loan from individuals, organizations, or museums.
The Secretary of State’s Register of Culturally Significant Property was established in January 2001 to recognize the Department’s owned properties overseas that have historical, architectural, or cultural significance. Properties in this category include chanceries, consulates, and residences. All these properties are used predominantly in general government operations and are thus classified as multi-use heritage assets. Financial information for multi-use heritage assets is presented in the principal statements.
Situated adjacent to Regent’s Park in London, England, Winfield House is the residence of the U.S. Ambassador to the Court of St. James. Heiress Barbara Hutton built this country manor in 1936, and named it after her grandfather F.W. (Winfield) Woolworth, who had founded the famous Woolworth stores where any item could be purchased for five or ten cents. After World War II, Hutton offered the building to the United States Government to use as the ambassador’s residence for the price of one American dollar.