Partners in Cultural Diplomacy

Meridian International Center was founded in 1960 and is a leading non-partisan, not-for-profit institution dedicated to strengthening international understanding. It is well known for building global partnerships through leadership exchanges and international collaboration. This work is furthered by its Art for Cultural Diplomacy program that organizes high quality exhibitions with government ministries, museums, artists, collectors, and experts around the globe. For over 25 years, Meridian has employed art to build bridges among people worldwide and its exhibits have traveled to 330 cities in 44 U.S. states and over 50 countries.

Meridian exhibitions are conceived as educational tools to share aspects of other cultures with audiences in the United States and also to provide information about American culture with people abroad. These projects serve as a basis for community-wide partnerships in Washington, DC, around the country and globally. They are based on the premise that exhibits and exchanges, performance events, and discussions of related cultural topics can serve as catalysts for constructive dialogue.

Meridian places great value on collaborations with organizations dedicated to furthering cultural diplomacy and this presentation with the Foundation for International Arts & Education (FIAE) of Bethesda, Maryland, is a case in point. The Foundation was created in 1995 to help protect and preserve the historical and cultural legacy of the countries of the former Soviet Union. FIAE, through its Arts and Exhibitions Program, organizes and manages exhibits at venues throughout the United States and in nations that once were a part of the USSR. Collateral and educational programs are a key component to each Foundation project. Its mission focuses on the preservation and protection of artistic and cultural legacies, safeguarding the dignity and reputation of the institutions whose artifacts are presented, and the creation of long-term relationships with them.

Meridian and the Foundation recognize that such partnerships are an ideal way for people of different cultures, ethnicities, and religious beliefs to better understand one another. The Glory of Ukraine: Sacred Images from the 11th to the 19th Centuries was developed to acquaint American viewers with an image of a distinctive Slavic culture, a Ukrainian Christian culture, which dates from the 10th century. The first icons came to Kyivan Rus’ from Byzantium, but over time a clear Ukrainian religious and artistic tradition emerged. In particular, this exhibition portrays Ukrainian images that are more “human” and emotional than in the stricter canonical forms of their northern neighbors. Golden Treasures and Lost Civilizations, the companion exhibit of artifacts representing Ukrainian prehistory, includes objects gathered over decades – rescued from the open market by the founders of the PlaTar Foundation – in an effort to preserve the country’s cultural patrimony. These materials speak eloquently of a nearly 7,000 year long history of artistic creativity and far-reaching contacts.

The presentation at Meridian International Center, drawn from renowned collections throughout Ukraine, offers a window into the soul of a people, and, when combined with contemporary artworks by renowned Ukrainian artist Oksana Mas, connects earliest times to the present. Ukraine has long served as a crossroads between East and West, North and South, and the materials on display eloquently underscore this point.

The Glory of Ukraine, together with contemporary works by Mas, brings together Meridian International Center, the Foundation for International Arts & Education, the Embassy of Ukraine in Washington, DC, and an artist who embodies the finest of her country’s cultural traditions. It permits each of us to promote and strengthen global understanding and is in keeping with the goals of Meridian’s Art for Cultural Diplomacy program.