The United Nations Art Collection is a collective group of artworks and historic objects donated as gifts to the United Nations by its member states, associations or individuals. These artistic treasures and possessions, mostly in the form of “sculptures, paintings, tapestries and mosaics”, are representative “arts of nations” that are contained and exhibited within the confines of the United Nations Headquarters in New York City and other duty stations, making the UN and its international territories a "fine small museum".
Member states follow a protocol for presenting official gifts to the United Nations. Procedures, speeches and ceremonies, such as the unveiling of these gifts, are conducted and coordinated by the Protocol and Liaison Service. Ideally, every member nation can only present one offering, and member nations are responsible for the installation of the offered artifacts.
The official gifts to the United Nations by its member states epitomize the ideals, significance and values of the UN as an international organization.
In 1985, as a representative of the United States, then first lady Nancy Reagan presented a mosaic to the United Nations to celebrate the organization's 40th anniversary. The Golden Rule mosaic was a creation of Venetian artists and was based on a painting by Norman Rockwell. Depicting people of all races, religion, creed and hue, the mosaic imparts the message to "do unto others as you would have them do unto you".
A symbol of peace, the Japanese Peace Bell was a gift of the people of Japan to the United Nations (1954), and is rung at two different times a year: on the first day of Spring and on every opening day in September of the annual sessions of the General Assembly. The bell is also sounded on special occasions such as when the United Nation celebrated the International Day of Peace on September 21 2006. The bell was also rung on October 4 1966 to mark the one-year anniversary of Pope Paul VI's visit to the United Nations Headquarters in New York City.