Office of Fine Arts

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Office of Fine Arts
US Department of State official seal.svg
Secretary Clinton Hosts a Working Lunch for French President Hollande (7241267266).jpg
Secretary Clinton hosts a working lunch for French President Hollande at a 22-person mahogany table in the Treaty Room at Blair House. A portrait of the nation's first President has been chosen to decorate the room.
Office overview
FormedJanuary 1961;58 years ago (1961-01)
Headquarters2201 C Street NW
M/FA Room 8213
Washington, D.C. 20520
38°53′40″N77°02′54″W / 38.8944°N 77.0484°W / 38.8944; -77.0484
MottoTo employ the fine arts in support of the diplomatic arts
Office executive
  • Marcee Craighill, Director of the Diplomatic Reception Rooms
Parent department Under Secretary for Management
Parent agency U.S. State Department
Child Office
  • Office of the Curator
Website diplomaticrooms.state.gov
Agency ID(M/FA)

The Office of Fine Arts (M/FA) is a division of the U.S. Department of State reporting to the Under Secretary of State for Management. The mission of the office is to administer appropriate settings for dialogue between U.S. officials and their international guests, to illustrate the continuity of American diplomacy through relevant objects, and to celebrate American cultural heritage through the acquisition, preservation and display of works of art with people around the world.

Under Secretary of State for Management Political office in the United States

The Under Secretary of State for Management is a position within the United States Department of State that serves as principal adviser to the Secretary of State and Deputy Secretary of State on matters relating to the allocation and use of Department of State budget, physical property, and personnel, including planning, the day-to-day administration of the Department, and proposals for institutional reform and modernization.

Contents

The office operates the Diplomatic Reception Rooms collection in the Department of State's headquarters, the Harry S Truman Building, as well as the collections at the President's Guest House, Blair House, covering two of the agency's nine heritage asset collections. The office also is tasked with the furnishment of the offices of the Secretary of State and other senior leadership. For over 50 years the office has been assisted by the Fine Arts Committee which held its first meeting on March 22, 1961. As of 2019, the office is headed by the Director of the Diplomatic Reception Rooms, Marcee Craighill.

Diplomatic Reception Rooms, U.S. Department of State

The Diplomatic Reception Rooms at the U.S. Department of State constitute forty-two principal rooms and offices where the Secretary of State conducts the business of modern diplomacy. Located on the seventh and eighth floors of the Harry S Truman Building in Washington, D.C., the Diplomatic Reception Rooms contain one of the nation’s foremost museum collections of American fine and decorative arts.

Harry S Truman Building architectural structure

The Harry S Truman Building is the headquarters of the United States Department of State. It is located in the capital city Washington, D.C., and houses the office of the United States Secretary of State.

Presidents Guest House U.S. presidential guest house in Washington, D.C.

The President's Guest House, commonly known as Blair House, is a complex of four formerly separate buildings—Blair House, Lee House, Peter Parker House, and 704 Jackson Place—located in Washington, D.C., the capital of the United States. A major interior renovation of these 19th century residences between the 1950s and 1980s resulted in their reconstitution as a single facility.

History

The work of the office began in 1961, being first tasked with the Americana Project: to remodel and redecorate the 42 Diplomatic Reception Rooms. The Americana Project was headed by the former Assistant Chief of Protocol, Clement Conger, under Secretary of State Christian Herter during the Kennedy administration. Conger had years earlier recommended space for official government entertainment be made in the expansion to the DOS headquarters and Congress had approved this. However, Congress did not appropriate funds for furnishings and interior decoration. Since it began, the office's only use of tax money has been for the salaries and expenses of a small staff.

Chief of Protocol of the United States U.S. government position

In the United States, the chief of protocol is an officer of the United States Department of State responsible for advising the president of the United States, the vice president, and the secretary of state on matters of national and international diplomatic protocol. The chief of protocol holds the rank of Ambassador and Assistant Secretary of State. Cam Henderson has served as Chief of Protocol since August 2019.

Clement Conger White House curator

Clement Ellis Conger was an American museum curator and public servant. He served as director of the U.S. Department of State Office of Fine Arts, where in that role he worked as curator of both the Diplomatic Reception Rooms and Blair House. He also served as Curator of the White House, at the pleasure of Presidents Nixon, Ford, Carter, and Reagan. Prior to working as a curator, Conger served as a Foreign Service Officer, as the Deputy Chief of Protocol of the United States and as the Assistant Secretary of the Combined Chiefs of Staff.

United States Secretary of State U.S. cabinet member and head of the U.S. State Department

The secretary of state is a senior official of the federal government of the United States of America, and as head of the United States Department of State, is principally concerned with foreign policy and is considered to be the U.S. government's minister of foreign affairs.

Diplomatic Reception Rooms

I use [the Diplomatic Reception Rooms] constantly with visitors, to sort of do that transformation of a couple of hundred years and take them back to our founding documents because only by talking about these men and talking about what they did, in the surroundings that would be familiar to them, can I show [visitors] how we became what we became.

United States Declaration of Independence 1776 assertion of colonial Americas independence from Great Britain

The United States Declaration of Independence is the pronouncement adopted by the Second Continental Congress meeting at the Pennsylvania State House in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on July 4, 1776. The Declaration explained why the Thirteen Colonies at war with the Kingdom of Great Britain regarded themselves as thirteen independent sovereign states, no longer under British rule. With the Declaration, these new states took a collective first step toward forming the United States of America. The declaration was signed by representatives from New Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia.

Founding Fathers of the United States Group of Americans who led the revolution against Great Britain

The Founding Fathers of the United States, or simply the Founding Fathers, were a group of American leaders who united the Thirteen Colonies, led the war for independence from Great Britain, and built a frame of government for the new United States of America upon republican principles during the latter decades of the 18th century. Most Founding Fathers at one point considered themselves British subjects, but they came to understand themselves more as patriotic Americans who possessed a spirit distinct from that of their motherland. The group was composed of businessmen, lawyers, philosophers, politicians, plantation owners and writers from a variety of social, economic, and ethnic backgrounds. The Founding Fathers came from a variety of occupations, and many had no prior political experience.

Secretary Powell, on the importance of the rooms [1]

Located on the top two floors of the U.S. Department of State, the 42 reception rooms are used by the President, Vice President, and Secretary of State to officially entertain heads of state, heads of government, foreign ministers, as well as other distinguished foreign and American guests. Here, the Office of Fine Arts maintains a collection of 5,000 objects estimated to be worth $125 million. Objects in the collection reflect American art and architecture from the time of the nation's founding and its formative years, 1750-1825. Approximately 100,000 visitors tour the rooms each year, with public tours being held three times a day. All of the items in the collection have been acquired through donations or purchases funded through gifts from private citizens, foundations, and corporations.

President of the United States Head of state and of government of the United States

The president of the United States (POTUS) is the head of state and head of government of the United States of America. The president directs the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces.

Vice President of the United States Second highest executive office in United States

The vice president of the United States is the second-highest officer in the executive branch of the U.S. federal government, after the president of the United States, and ranks first in the presidential line of succession. The vice president is also an officer in the legislative branch, as president of the Senate. In this capacity, the vice president is empowered to preside over Senate deliberations, but may not vote except to cast a tie-breaking vote. The vice president also presides over joint sessions of Congress.

A head of state is the public persona who officially represents the national unity and legitimacy of a sovereign state. Depending on the country's form of government and separation of powers, the head of state may be a ceremonial figurehead or concurrently the head of government. In a parliamentary system, such as India, the head of state usually has mostly ceremonial powers, with a separate head of government. However in some parliamentary systems, like South Africa, there is an executive president that is both head of state and head of government. Likewise, in some parliamentary systems the head of state is not the head of government, but still has significant powers, for example Morocco. In contrast, a semi-presidential system, such as France, has both heads of state and government as the de facto leaders of the nation. Meanwhile, in presidential systems such as the United States, the head of state is also the head of government.

The work of the office regarding the Diplomatic Reception Rooms is supported by an outside 501(c)(3) public charity, the Fund for the Endowment of the Diplomatic Reception Rooms at the U.S. Department of State.

A 501(c)(3) organization is a corporation, trust, unincorporated association, or other type of organization exempt from federal income tax under section 501(c)(3) of Title 26 of the United States Code. It is one of the 29 types of 501(c) nonprofit organizations in the US.

Office of Fine Arts staff take care to curate the rooms with items that are evocative of the values held by the emerging American nation as diplomats and American leadership use the rooms to convey the nation's continued dedication to those values. Additionally the environment may positively inspire civil service and foreign service staff as Secretary Shultz put forward: "And [US Government staff] feel now 'I'm here as part of the history of what's going on and maybe if we do things right they'll hang our picture up here someday and 200 years from now somebody will point to it." [1]

Blair House

President Obama and Labor Secretary Lu confer together on a Blair House couch in the Dillon Room, 2009. The green hand-painted Chinese wallpaper dates to 1770 and was donated by C. Douglas Dillon in 1964. Lu and Obama at Blair House.jpg
President Obama and Labor Secretary Lu confer together on a Blair House couch in the Dillon Room, 2009. The green hand-painted Chinese wallpaper dates to 1770 and was donated by C. Douglas Dillon in 1964.

The President's Guest House, commonly known as Blair House, is a complex of four formerly separate buildings: Blair House, Lee House, Peter Parker House, and 704 Jackson Place. It is composed of 115 rooms and 30 bathrooms. The President's Guest House is primarily used to host visiting dignitaries and other guests of the president and has been called "the world's most exclusive hotel". [2] It is larger than the White House and closed to the public. The Buildings are owned by the General Services Administration and are managed by the Chief of Protocol of the United States in cooperation with the Diplomatic Security Service, the Bureau of Administration and the Office of Fine Arts. [3]

The financing of the preservation of historic furnishings and art found in the Guest House is supported by an outside 501(c)(3) organization, the Blair House Restoration Fund.

State Offices

Secretary Clinton poses with Ambassador Cretz in front of an American landscape in the Secretary's Suite Cretz & Clinton 2012-10-08.jpg
Secretary Clinton poses with Ambassador Cretz in front of an American landscape in the Secretary's Suite

In addition to the management of the two heritage assets, the office is responsible for furnishing and maintaining the offices and reception rooms of the Secretary, the two Deputy Secretaries, and the Under Secretary for Political Affairs. Before Fine Arts furnished senior leadership offices, offices were noticeably sparse as Secretary Kissinger describes: "When I was Secretary, the Secretary's office hadn't been rebuilt yet. It was described by somebody as like the boardroom of a medium-seized Midwestern bank. So I frequently took visitors upstairs [to the Diplomatic Reception Rooms] and showed them a more artistic and historic side of America." [1]

Staff

The director of the office retains the title the Director of the Diplomatic Reception Rooms. To date, there have been 3 such directors:

No.NameDates
1 Clement E. Conger 1961–1992
2Gail F. Serfaty1992–2007
3Marcee Craighill2007–present

Internships

The Office of Fine Arts at the U.S. Department of State offers internship opportunities in the spring, summer and fall of each year. These opportunities are unpaid, experience-oriented internships in historic artifact research and curation, fundraising, and cultural heritage management. Interns must be (1) a U.S. citizen (2) able to obtain and maintain a security clearance (3) enrolled as a degree-seeking student in an accredited college or university and (4) enrolled as a full- or part-time graduate student in fine or decorative arts. Sessions are 10 weeks of 40 hours each week; students are required to serve a minimum of 24 hours each week for 8 weeks. [4]

See also

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References

  1. 1 2 3 Huberman, Martin (Director) (November 14, 2017). Becoming a Nation (Video). Washington, DC: Fund for the Endowment of the Diplomatic Reception Rooms. Retrieved August 4, 2019.
  2. Stephey, M.J. (January 15, 2009). "Blair House: World's Most Exclusive Hotel". TIME Magazine . Retrieved October 27, 2015.
  3. French, Mary Mel (2010). United States Protocol. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 297–300. ISBN   1-4422-0319-6.
  4. "Internships". US Department of State.PD-icon.svgThis article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.