Visualizing Universalism: The UNESCO Human Rights Exhibition, 1949-1953

Thursday, April 17, 2014  1:00pm - 6:30pm East Gallery, Buell Hall


Image rights: The UNESCO Human Rights Exhibition Album


Heyman Center for the Humanities

Institute for the Study of Human Rights

Center for Human Rights Documentation & Research

Maison Francaise

The Visualizing Universalism symposium coincides with the opening of a new exhibition at Columbia University’s the Arthur Ross Architecture Gallery, Buell Hall publicly displaying the original UNESCO Human Rights Exhibition and its archive for the first time in sixty years. UNESCO’s Human Rights Exhibition from 1949 was the first international event that sought to visually represent the history and meaning of the then-recently adopted Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Using the exhibition as a platform for critical debate on contemporary human rights culture, the symposium explores insights provided by UNESCO’s first attempt to visualize and historicize the UDHR. In three sessions, we will discuss the exhibition’s historical context, its teleological narrative, and the ways in which human rights are represented and disseminated through visual culture – questions pertinent to both the exhibition and to contemporary discussions of human rights.

For more on the 1949 Human Rights Exhibition Project, visit the project website.

More exhibition images on our Flickr page.

This event is free and open to the public. Seating is first come, first served.


  • Ariella Azoulay

    Professor, Program for Culture and Interpretation

    Bar Ilan University

  • Elazar Barkan

    Professor of International and Public Affairs

    Columbia University

  • Yasmine Ergas

    Associate Director

    Institute for the Study of Human Rights

  • Anselm Franke

    Artistic Director

    Extra City Center for Contemporary Art, Antwerp

  • Thomas Keenan

    Associate Professor of Comparative Literature; Director, Human Rights Program

    Bard College

  • Samuel Moyn

    Professor of Law

    Harvard University

  • Felicity Scott

    Associate Professor of Architecture, Planning and Preservation

    Columbia University

  • Mark Wasiuta

    Adjunct Assistant Professsor of Architecture, Planning and Preservation

    Columbia University


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