On 30 September 1949 a Human Rights Exhibition opened in Paris. This exhibition was created by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization to give meaning to the then-recently adopted Universal Declaration of Human Rights and to disseminate the Declaration globally through travels to Europe, Asia and the Americas. This research project, hosted by Columbia University's Institute for the Study of Human Rights, uncovers, researches, and re-exhibits this historical event in order to understand how a concept we now take for granted was constructed in the aftermath of the Second World War. 


Image from UNESCO's exhibition

Image from UNESCO's exhibition

Text Panels from the Exhibition

Text Panels from the Exhibition

Promotional image

Promotional image

Visualizing Universalism

The fascinating story of UNESCO's Human Rights Exhibition will be explored in a new exhibition titled Visualizing Universalism at Columbia University's Arthur Ross Architectural Gallery, Buell Hall, on 17 April 2014, displaying the original traveling Human Rights Exhibition Album together with archival documents and installation photographs. This will be the first time in 60 years that this material is shown publicly. 

See here for more on this new exhibition.   

 

Debating Human Rights

 This project seeks to foster an interdisciplinary debate with a seminar series, workshops, and symposia.  A symposium exploring the exhibition through questions of history and visual culture of human rights will accompany the opening of the Visualizing Universalism exhibition on 17 April 2014 . There will be contributions from leading human rights scholars such as Samuel Moyn, Mark Mazower, Ariella Azoulay, Thomas Keenan, Felicity Scott, and Elazar Barkan. The symposium builds on a seminar series at Columbia last Fall.

See our past and future events here.

 

Opening the Archive

A central objective of this project is to create a foundation for future research. With thousands of pages of unexplored material, which will not be possible to display in the physical exhibition, we plan to make this additional material, and the story of the exhibition itself, more widely available in an online exhibition. This platform will further be open to expansions and alterations as the project evolves. 

Read more about the project here.