Mme. Ban Ki Moon of the United Nations
January 8 • 2015
Meeting in the George Nakashima Reading Room
in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY
A step on the path of beauty occurred on January 8th. On that day, a long cherished idea of Miriam Belov to introduce Mrs. Ban, the spouse of the Secretary General of the United Nations, to colleagues from the Nakashima Foundation for Peace took place. It happened in a place of great beauty, at the George Nakashima reading room in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
The day began over a private lunch in the Museum dining room. Joining Mme. Ban (seated center), Mira Nakashima (standing center) and Miriam Belov (seated right) were: Madame Remedios Fe Cabactulan (seated left), the president of the UNDWC and the spouse of Libran Cabactulan, the Philippine Ambassador to the UN; Dr. Nassrin Iromloo Zahedi (standing left), a co-president of the Hospitality Committee for United Nations Delegations. The Ambassador and Madame Cabactulan had visited the Nakashima compound in May 2014 when he spoke about The Very Reverend James Parks Morton, Honorary Chairman of the Nakashima Foundation for Peace (NFP). Mira Nakashima, the daughter of George who is continuing his legacy of woodworking and is the president of the NFP , arrived with her brother, Kevin (standing far right), who is also on the board, her son Satoru Amagasu (standing left) and his wife, Soomi (standing right), who is also of Korean lineage. It was a great joy for both Soomi and Mme. Ban to converse in their native language and to also discover that a friend of Soomi’s father had mentored Mr. Ban in his early career. These kinds of personal connections were made throughout the afternoon and by its end, everyone felt a warmth that melted the cold weather.
After the cordial lunch together, the group reassembled at the Nakashima room in the Japanese Galleries. A very pleasant surprise was that John Carpenter, the curator for the Japanese Galleries could join us also. Nakashima had been asked to create a reading room with table and chairs for the new gallery in the mid 1980’s. Barbara Ford, the Met curator to oversee these new rooms, knew that Miriam was connected with Nakashima and asked her to facilitate an introduction. The Nakashima room is a testament to the complementary nature of art and contemplation in peace.
George Nakashima built several pieces for this commission between 1986-87. The room has been a wonderful space in the museum ever since its inception.
John Carpenter showed us the very popular kimono exhibition. Then we sat around the table, now placed in the middle of the adjacent gallery. In this new location, it has been appreciated and used by the crowds of people who visit. The new context serves to highlight the table and chairs’ beauty and modernity.