Founded in 1964 to showcase original American artwork in residences of United States ambassadors, the program has become a sophisticated operation.
The idea was laid out in 1961 by Robert h. Thayer, special assistant to the Secretary of State. Thayer saw the program as providing “windows through which the people of foreign countries can see American works of art of all kinds and periods.”
The report lay idle for two years until Deputy Undersecretary of State William A. Crockett brought it to the attention of President John F. Kennedy, whose positive reaction sent the program forward. It is a blend of art, diplomacy, culture and politics and promotes national and regional pride, making it obvious that the American aesthetic identity is vast.
Art in Embassies has become an exhibition venue for several-thousand works of art in many of the 160 United States embassy residences. Ambassadors can choose the artists to be represented in their embassies and quite often select work of an artist from their home state.
Frequently a curator or other art professional serves as an advisor, and the agreement is that artwork will be loaned for a three-year period. Contributors are artists, museums, individual collectors or galleries.
The Department of State of the U.S. government handles shipping and insurance.