Monday, 18 January 2021

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A UN museum where digital is more than an afterthought

Copenhagen already houses the operations of many UN agencies, including the headquarters of UNOPS. Photo/UN City.

The creation of “UN Live Museum” in Copenhagen has been announced.

“The purpose is to create a platform where people can learn about the work and the goals of the UN and interact with each other and the UN around those goals and values”, says Executive Director Jan Mattsson in an interview with the UNRIC website.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the creation of the Live Museum in a statement.

“The Secretary-General looks forward to cooperation between the United Nations system and the Museum to help raise awareness about and build support for the Sustainable Development Goals and our efforts to build a better shared future for all,” Mr. Ban said in a statement.

UN live will consist of a digital platform, a network of UN live hubs dispersed throughout the world, and a building in Copenhagen.

“I want to emphasize that it´s a global museum, which will be present all around the world through the internet and travelling exhibitions, through partner organisations. We have big ambitions for global coverage” Mattsson says.

First digital operations will start next year, although the building will not be ready. Fundraising is underway for a five-year budget of 350 million Euro, including infrastructure in Copenhagen.

Three men from different horizons are the brains behind the Live Museum. Mattsson, a Swede, is a former UN Under-Secretary-General and head of UNOPS. He teamed up with the Danish entrepreneur Henrik Skovby, Chairman of the global firm Dalberg, and Icelandic/Danish artist Ólafur Elíasson.

“It has from the beginning been thought of as a global museum where the digital component is not an add-on but really the space where bottom-up resource and idea crowd-sourcing is a driving force,” Elíasson said in an interview with UNRIC. “It will offer not only a space where visitors and users learn, engage and act, through the UN live, but also, where the UN will also be able to listen and learn from people.”

Among those who have endorsed the project are no fewer than three former UN Secretary-Generals, Kofi Annan, the late Boutros Boutros-Ghali and Javier Pérez de Cuellar, but also Secretary-General designate António Guterres.

 “I deeply believe we must find new and creative ways of engaging citizens in the United Nations’ mission, promoting the core values of human dignity, respect for human rights and international solidarity” Mr. Guterres said. “The UN Live Museum is an important step forward in our efforts to educate and engage.”

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