UN at Geneva Open Doors Day: peace and peacocks

GENEVA, Switzerland – Jazz, Thai drum dancing and film screenings are but a few of the many activities taking place this Saturday 24 October from 10:00 to 17:00, free of charge, during the Open Doors Day at the UN in Geneva.

The Palais de Nations opens its doors to the public at large; an excellent opportunity to yield away from restrictive, short and boring tours and enjoy the UN as the wonderful architectural and diplomacy jewel that it is.

Check out the special photo exhibit  that provides an insight into the work of the UN in the world and find the many interactive activities planned for the day: See the full programme here.

Preps are underway at the UN as you read this!

Make sure to walk around the Ariana Park in the hopes that you’ll meet with one of the incredible “characters” of the UN. No, not diplomats, but peacocks that roam around freely there (see picture left).

If you are new to Geneva, let me recap the story for you.

The 46-hectare Ariana Park was once owned by the  Revilliod de Rive family, originally from France, that settled in Geneva in the XVI Century.

A descendant, Gustave Revilliod, who also owned the Varembé parcel and large extensions of land in canton Geneva, built a museum between 1877-1884 to house his family’s large art collection and named it Ariana, in memory of his mother.

Six years after the museum was completed Gustave Revilliod died and having no descendants bequeathed his land and most of his fortune to the city of Geneva.

One of the bequest’s conditions was that peacocks should roam freely on its [Ariana Park] grounds. It is not unusual to see peacocks dancing in full splendor in the Palais grounds.

Most of the birds that visitors can see today are peafowl donated to UNOG in 1997 by a zoo in Japan. Others were a gift from the Permanent Mission of India. The birds are fed and cared for by the park’s gardeners.

The Ariana Park, now part of the UN, surrounds the museum and is a “must-see” for any UN visitor.

Also check out the many celebrations around the world where 250 or so monuments will be lit in ‘UN blue’ beginning Friday 23 October. This is part of the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the United Nations. (I wonder if the Jet d’Eau will turn blue tonight!)

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