United Nations HQ to Undergo $2 Billion Renovation

We admit to watching The Interpreter on mute to better scrutinize the threadbare Modernist zeal of the United Nations headquarters, situated on 18 acres worth of Manhattan. Now comes word that—like many an aging star after a close-up—the 56-year-old UN HQ is gearing up for a face lift. Slated to begin early next year, the five-year, $2 billion renovation will “strip the the [39-floor Secretariat] building down to the pure, flat surfaces that made it innovative when it opened, while replacing the outdated innards like air-conditioning, lighting, wiring, and plumbing,” notes The New York Times. And so it’s out with the asbestos and in with the photovoltaic cell-studded glass, but what about all that art?

Large items affixed to the walls of the Secretariat will be encased in their own structures with heating and air-conditioning while the rest of the interior is exposed to the elements. These include…two large murals by the Cubist artist Fernand Léger, who was eventually barred from the United States for his association with the Communist Party. President Truman, on first spotting the murals, is said to have commented that one looked like a bunny coming out of a hat, and another a fried egg.