Object Timeline

1951

  • Work on this object began.

1970

2015

2018

2019

  • You found it!

Fragment, 1951

This is a Fragment. It was designed by Else Poulsson. It is dated 1951 and we acquired it in 2015. Its medium is rayon. It is a part of the Textiles department.

One textile fragment produced for the United Nations Security Council Chamber and received as a gift by the Norwegian Consulate General. This fabric was produced in 1951 and was used for draperies and wallcoverings in the Security Council Chamber at the United Nation's first permanent quarters on the East River in New York City. Following a period of great international turmoil, the Security Council Chamber was gifted to the United Nations by Norway, and since 1952 has been the meeting place for world leaders to come together to work together to maintain peace and security.

The Security Council Chamber was designed by Arnstein Arneberg, one of Norway’s most renowned modernist architects, and the fabric used for the draperies and wallcovering was designed by Else Poulsson. The United Nations building itself is an example of modernist architecture, and while the chamber was designed in a neutral character so it could stand the test of time, it was representative of contemporary Norwegian art and culture. Architectural framework and design features convey messages of peace, justice, and democracy. Arneberg is noted for his design of the Oslo City Hall, where he established his professional relationship with Poulsson.

The damask fabric designed by Norwegian textile artist Else Poulsson contains symbolic motifs in the design: anchors of faith, growing wheat of hope, and hearts of charity. Poulsson was a designer for The Norwegian Folk Art and Craft Association and created textiles with elaborate embroidery for some of Norway’s most prestigious royal and political chambers. Some of these projects include furnishings for the royal yacht, the King’s private waiting room at Oslo Grand Central, along with textiles for a number of churches.

The original fabric is a rayon satin damask produced by Joh. Petersen AS in Oslo, Norway. When the chamber was renovated in 1996, the reproduction fabric was composed of wool and the woven design was slightly altered. For the 2013 renovation the fabric was a much more accurate rendering of the original and was again woven in rayon by the company Krivi Vev AS. This fragment is an unused piece of the 1951 fabric given to the descendents of the manufacture's founder by a former employee.

The focal point of the chamber is a large mural painted by Per Krohg, which depicts a phoenix rising from the ashes of violence and struggle, and is symbolic of the creation of the United Nations following the destruction of World War II. The Poulsson fabric frames this mural and extends to the rear of the chamber, where the wall is covered with a more neutral straw wallcovering.

This is one of the most culturally significant wallcoverings acquired by the museum. This same pattern has hung for nearly 65 years on the chamber walls where some of the most important decisions concerning the citizens of the world have been made.

This object was featured in our Object of the Day series in a post titled Textile Designed for Peace.

It is credited Gift of the Petersen Family and the Royal Norwegian Consulate General.

Its dimensions are

Warp x Weft: 24.1 × 55.9 cm (9 1/2 in. × 22 in.)

Cite this object as

Fragment, 1951; Designed by Else Poulsson (Norwegian, 1909–2002); rayon; Warp x Weft: 24.1 × 55.9 cm (9 1/2 in. × 22 in.); Gift of the Petersen Family and the Royal Norwegian Consulate General; 2015-12-1

This object may be subject to Copyright or other restrictions.

You are welcome to make fair use of this image under U.S. Copyright law and in compliance with our terms of use. Please note that you are responsible for determining whether your use is fair and for responding to any claims that may arise from your use.

For higher resolution or commercial use contact ArtResource.

If you would like to cite this object in a Wikipedia article please use the following template:

<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url=https://www-6.collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/69157049/ |title=Fragment, 1951 |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=20 September 2019 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>