Queens Museum of Art marks UN anniversary

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The Queens Museum of Art, housed in the historic New York City Building in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, will celebrate at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 21 the site as the original temporary headquarters of the United Nations General Assembly from 1946 through 1952.

The New York City Building, home to the Queens Museum of Art since 1972, was designed by architect Aymar Embury and built as a permanent structure for the 1939-40 World’s Fair as the New York City Pavilion. Following the acceptance by the United Nations of President Franklin Roosevelt’s invitation to establish a permanent headquarters in the United States, the New York City Building was placed in service to the UN on Oct. 18, 1946.

The first General Assembly session opened Oct. 23 with President Harry S. Truman addressing the Assembly.

The “gathering of nations” for the World’s Fair in 1939 and 1940, made Flushing Meadows Park (Corona was added to its title in 1967) an appropriate setting for the United Nations. Robert Moses, principal architect of the park’s development, proposed the park site for the permanent home of the UN. The proposal was given serious consideration until the Manhattan site was selected.

In the meantime, within the walls of the New York City Building, five General Assembly sessions were held in the course of six years. During this period, the Assembly was faced with a number of historic issues, including the Korean crisis, the Palestinian partition, and the proclamation of the State of Israel. Thirty-four more countries joined the original 26 nations of the UN Declaration during this period.

The concert marks the second annual remembrance presented at the Flushing Meadows site to commemorate when the world first convened as the United Nations — a fact that is all but forgotten today.

The event will feature a performance by the Children’s Orchestra Society performing under the direction of Dr. Michael Dadap. The COS was founded in 1962 by Dr. H.T. Ma (father of famed cellist Yo-Yo Ma) to instruct children and young adults in the art of classical music. The society boasts a membership o nearly 200 students in the society’s three orchestras and 25 chamber music groups.

Noted speakers will address the gathering, beginning with opening remarks by Marta B. Varela of the New York City Commission on Human Rights.

Toni Jones, founder of A Brighter Tomorrow Project, will discuss her global campaign to prevent children from being forced into military service. Jones is a 14-year-old student at St. John’s Preparatory School in Astoria and has been a forceful advocate since she and her family escaped the dictatorial regime that occupied their native Liberia in 1990. She has witnessed firsthand the abuse of children forced to become soldiers, and has spearheaded a campaign to ban this cruel practice.

Dr. Benjamin Rivlin will pay tribute to the Ralph Bunche — a noted scholar who served as Undersecretary-General of the United Nations and received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1950. Rivlin is the founder and director of the Ralph Bunche Institute.

United Nations Day 2001 is held in collaboration with the Flushing Jewish Community Council Multicultural Committee, the New York City Commission on Human Rights, and the Queens Chapter of the United Nations Association of the United States of America.

The program is free with museum admission, which is by suggested contribution: $5 general; $2.50 students and seniors. Seating for the concert is limited and advance reservations are required by calling the museum at 718- 592-9700, Ext. 222.

Posted 7:25 pm, October 10, 2011
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