printable banner

U.S. Department of State - Great Seal

U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

Heritage Assets


Bureau of Resource Management
Report
November 15, 2011

Share



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 eight categories: the Diplomatic Reception Rooms, Art Bank, Art in Embassies, Cultural Heritage Program, Library Rare & Special Book Collection, the Secretary of State’s Register of Culturally Significant Property, the U.S. Diplomacy Center, and the Blair House. Items in the Register of Culturally Significant Property category are classified as multi-use heritage assets due to their use in general government operations.

Diplomatic Reception Rooms

In 1961, the State Department’s Office of Fine Arts began the privately-funded Americana Project to remodel and redecorate the 42 Diplomatic Reception Rooms - including the offices of the Secretary of State - on the seventh and eighth floors of the Harry S. Truman Building. The Secretary of State, the President and Senior Government Officials use the rooms for official functions promoting American values through diplomacy. The rooms reflect American art and architecture from the time of our country’s founding and its formative years, 1740 - 1840. The rooms also contain one of the most important collections of early Americana in the nation, with over 5,000 objects, including museum-quality furniture, rugs, paintings, and silver. These items have been acquired through donations or purchases funded through gifts from private citizens, foundations, and corporations. No tax dollars have been used to acquire or maintain the collection. There are three public tours each day.

Photo showing the Adams Room.

Top left: The Adams Room.
Top right: Thomas Jefferson State Reception Room.
Right: The U.S. Department of State partners with Time Inc. and InStyle to decorate the Diplomatic Reception Rooms for the Holidays in December 2010.

Department of State

Photo showing the Thomas Jefferson State Reception Room.

Photo showing the Diplomatic Reception Rooms that were decorated for the Holidays in December 2010 by the U.S. Department of State who partnered with Time Inc. and InStyle.

Art Bank

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.

Photo showing Art Bank work Photo showing Art Bank work

Art Bank works include “Morgans Corner, Georgetown” (2002) Raymond Ewing, watercolor (left) and “Flowers” (2009) Kota Ezawa, intaglio (above).

Rare & Special Book Collection

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.

Cultural Heritage Program

Bust of George Washington (1732-1799), first President of the United States by Felix de Weldon, 1945, cast in zinc, finished with white paint and gold leaf. Restorative conservation on all surface materials. The original life size bust is displayed in the United States Embassy in Canberra, Australia.

Photo showing Bust of George Washington by Felix de Weldon.

The Cultural Heritage Program, which is managed by the Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations, Office of Residential Design and Cultural Heritage, 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.

Art in Embassies

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.

Secretary of State’s Register of Culturally Significant Property

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. The register is managed by the Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations, Office of Residential Design and Cultural Heritage.

Photo showing Palazzo Margherita, the U.S. Embassy office building in Rome.

Left: Palazzo Margherita, the U.S. Embassy office building in Rome, was designed by Gaetano Koch and built between 1886 and 1890 for Prince Boncompagni Ludovisi. The United States purchased the palazzo in 1946 using Italian lire war credits against U.S. surplus army property.
Department of State/OBO

Below: The Seoul Old American Legation, Seoul, South Korea, built in 1883 and now used as a guesthouse, is an exceptionally well preserved example of traditional Korean residential architecture. Originally serving as both home and office of America’s representative, it has been acknowledged by the Korean people as a symbol of freedom against aggressors.
Department of State/OBO

Photo showing the Seoul Old American Legation, Seoul, South Korea, built in 1883 and now used as a guesthouse.

Diplomacy Center

The U.S. Diplomacy Center will be a unique education and exhibition venue at the Department of State that will explore the history, practice and challenges of U.S. diplomacy. It will be a place that fosters a greater understanding of the role of U.S. diplomacy, past, present and future, and will be an educational resource for students and teachers in the United States and around the globe. Exhibitions and programs will inspire visitors to make diplomacy a part of their lives. The Diplomacy Center is situated within the Bureau of Public Affairs, and actively collects artifacts for exhibitions.

Blair House

Composed of four historic landmark buildings owned by GSA, Blair House, the President’s Guest House, operates under the stewardship of the Department of State’s Office of the Chief of Protocol and has accommodated official guests of the President of the United States since 1942. Its many elegant rooms are furnished with collections of predominantly American and English fine and decorative arts, historical artifacts, other cultural objects, rare books, and archival materials documenting the Blair family and buildings history from 1824 to the present. Objects are acquired via purchase, donation or transfer through the private non-profit Blair House Restoration Fund; transfers may also be received through the State Department’s Office of Fine Arts and Office of the Chief of Protocol. Collections are managed by the Office of the Curator at Blair House, which operates under the Office of Fine Arts.

Photo showing a handmade quilt. Gift to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton from Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf on the occasion of the Secretary's trip to Liberia, July 2009. The handmade quilt depicts a village of small houses, trees, and a waterfall, with adults doing chores and children playing outside.  As part of the quilt, a caption at the top reads 'Hilary Clinton-Secretary of State' and a caption at the bottom reads 'It takes a village...  From the Liberian People'.

Handmade quilt. Gift to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton from Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf on the occasion of the Secretary’s trip to Liberia, July 2009.
Department of State

Photo showing the 18th and 19th Century furniture, Chinese porcelain, and a fine 1846 portrait of Secretary of State Daniel Webster in the Blair House Rear Drawing Room that welcomes guests for receptions throughout the year.

Filled with 18th and 19th Century furniture, Chinese porcelain, and a fine 1846 portrait of Secretary of State Daniel Webster, the Blair House Rear Drawing Room welcomes guests for receptions throughout the year.
Department of State

 




Back to Top
Sign-in

Do you already have an account on one of these sites? Click the logo to sign in and create your own customized State Department page. Want to learn more? Check out our FAQ!

OpenID is a service that allows you to sign in to many different websites using a single identity. Find out more about OpenID and how to get an OpenID-enabled account.