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Since its inception, the Office of Art in Embassies has served the U.S. Department of State by cultivating partnerships with more than 12,000 artists, museums, galleries and foundations worldwide to provide dynamic, culturally-diverse exhibitions for all U.S. diplomatic posts.

1953
1953
The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City forms an International Council to facilitate exhibitions of American art around the world. A trial exhibition of American art is first sent to the embassy residence of Ambassador L. Corrin Strong in Oslo, Norway. Several works from MoMA are lent to the residence including Alfonso Roybal’s Green Corn Ceremony, John Kane’s Homestead, Walter Kuhn’s Apples in the Hay, and Stuart Davis’ Summer Landscape.
1956
1956
The International Council at MoMA becomes incorporated as a privately supported educational group. It consists of 110 men and women from throughout the United States, interested in furthering the international exchange of the visual arts. Honorary members of the council include Mrs. John F. Kennedy, Senator J. William Fulbright, and C. Douglas Dillon.  Mrs. L. Corrin Strong begins fundraising to support more American artwork going abroad to embassy residences.
1959
1959
Career diplomat Stanley and wife Shirley Woodward establish a private, non-profit foundation and begin a joint loan program with MoMA and the Department of State. They purchase works of art, which eventually total over 500 pieces (including works by Josef Albers, Robert Motherwell, Helen Frankenthaler, Jasper Johns, and many others).  The contemporary works are loaned out to departing American ambassadors for use in official embassy residences. Shirley Woodward is one of the first to call the loaning of these works “Art in Embassies”.
1960
1960
The International Council of MoMA establishes an Art in Embassies project and coordinates with the Department of State to select appropriate residences. MoMA engages more than fifty museums across the U.S. to loan works to diplomatic posts with exhibitions “representing American creative achievements.” The first shipment of nineteen works goes to Bonn, Germany, to Ambassador and Mrs. Walter Dowling, and includes works by Americans Jackson Pollock, Edward Hopper, and Alexander Calder, and Germans including Max Beckmann and Emil Nolde.  The exhibitions are originally sent for a period of one year to eighteen months, but are frequently extended. In 1960, sixteen exhibitions for U.S. embassy residences are planned, including Bonn, Tokyo, Reykjavik, Ottawa, Lima, Copenhagen, Paris, Lisbon, Addis Ababa, New Delhi, and Bangkok.


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