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Museum for the United Nations - UN Live
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An unconventional museum to drive global change 

We are the Museum for the United Nations - UN Live, an independent institution created to connect people everywhere to the work and values of the United Nations, by dramatically increasing the number of people who work to achieve its goals. We aim to empower billions of people across the globe to take action and help build a more sustainable, just and hopeful world. 

As a new museum, we are unleashing the power of culture to reach people everywhere, and to unite them on a common journey for change. 

Students from across universities in Varanasi joined a My Mark: My City event to develop action plans for tackling the city's poor air quality and unclean water. Photo: Ravi Shekhar

Our history and affiliation with the United Nations

In 2015 the UN’s landmark Sustainable Development Goals were adopted. Our three cofounders – Olafur Eliasson, Jan Mattsson, and Henrik Skovby – saw that in order for these ambitious goals to be successful, the world would need to mobilise billions of people to take action for positive change. This birthed the idea of a wholly new kind of organisation with the goal of bringing the work of the UN closer to its people, and linking the power of the UN to a people-driven optimistic, connected global movement.

One year later, all four then-living current and former United Nations Secretary-Generals stood behind this bold idea, and Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon formally endorsed the institution. The Museum for the United Nations - UN Live was created. 

“UN Live has the potential to offer a platform for all of us, particularly our youth, to connect with the United Nations and engage on the issues that matter to us. With UN Live, we can all engage and be part of the change we want to see” - Kofi Annan, UN Secretary General 1997-2006

We are close to, but not part of, the United Nations. As an independent not-for-profit NGO registered in Copenhagen, Denmark, we are privately funded with additional support from the Danish government and the city of Copenhagen.

Our approach to empower billions to take actions

We know that at this critical moment for our planet and global community, business as usual no longer cuts it. In our mission to move billions to take action, we must, together with our partners, build the world’s most ambitious movement for behaviour change.

We are optimistic about the future – because the science of behaviour change affirms the untapped powers of something we all already have and we all already love: culture. Whether through film, music, food, sport, faith, gaming, or cultural heritage, we will work in collaboration to unleash culture’s power to move people and entire sectors into action.

We have designed our Creative Impact Lab to be the engine powering our approach. The Creative Impact Lab is designed to catalyse and support creative collisions of partners to build high-impact, replicable, and scalable cultural experiences and programs. All of the Museum’s activities are based on our core principles for impact:

  • We believe it is necessary to take risks, with time so of the essence. All of our programmes will be born from a deliberately radical approach, so that we develop impactful and proven programmes and exhibitions that can scale effectively.
  • We base our partnership approach on the values at the heart of the United Nations. Optimism and hope, curiosity and empathy, ambition and tirelessness inform the way we build partnerships between untraditional and diverse change-makers.
  • We build cultural experiences rooted in science. The content of our programmes is built on the solid foundation of United Nations backed research, and the approaches used to drive engagement are founded on insights from the world’s leading behavioural scientists.

One of the participants at a My Mark: My City event held at the Explora Museum shows that she will 'make her mark'. Teachers from around Medellín came together to share ideas about how to use hands-on experiments to teach their students about climate change. Photo: Federico Ruiz

Our global programmes – live, local, and taking place in people’s everyday lives

Our growing international team is developing and incubating a programme that brings our vision to life. We continue to build a global network of diverse partners who share our impatience for driving forward global behaviour-change. Our partnerships are the backbone of our work and the key to our success. In 2019 we launched our public programme with an experimental initiative – My Mark: My City. Taking place across 18 countries and in partnership with many local organisations, it explored how young people can fight climate change by making sustainable transformations in their own cities and communities. Explore our activities and their impact here.

In 2020 the global COVID-19 pandemic illustrated just how intimately we are connected, to each other, and to the health of our planet and natural world. UN Live aims to channel this connectedness into collective action through our multi-year programme on biodiversity and climate change. We are playing a leading role in Count Us In, a movement that motivates the global ‘middle’ to make simple changes that are both good for the planet and for ourselves. This is the beginning of our ambitious plan to weave together local voices and actions, to magnify them, and let them inspire others to join. During 2021, our programme will be branching into One Health, and soon thereafter will grow into other important – and interrelated - themes such as migration, displacement, and inequality. Stay updated by joining our newsletter here.

Dancers perform at a My Mark: My City event in Nairobi bringing together arts organisations, urban planners and students around the community impact of a huge nearby landfill on the health and economic stability of local citizens. Participants used traditions of communal justice to debate the thorny issue and find solutions. Photo: Daniel Onyango

Our future building – a people’s house for global change

While our global programmes and exhibitions will live within local communities across the globe, we are also working towards establishing a physical manifestation of the Museum - a hub and beating heart for our global activities.

The building, to be located in Copenhagen, will be an experience centre and an inclusive civic space that helps inspire, exchange and build ideas to accelerate mass action for global change. It will be a “people’s house” - a global symbol of the power and importance of people-driven action.

The building itself will be a sustainability landmark that embraces all the Sustainable Development Goals across design, construction and operations.

Aerial image of Van der Hamen Reserve in Bogotá, Colombia, where our partners VozTerra recorded the sounds of biodiversity to bring the citizens of Bogotá closer to nature. Photo: Daniel Bretón

Our people

Museum for the United Nations – UN Live is led by Molly Fannon. Molly’s international career has spanned international development work, strategy in the cultural sector, fundraising and academia. Most recently, as Director of the Smithsonian’s Office of International Relations and Global Programs, she oversaw global partnership and strategy work across the work of the entire Institution, uniting the sciences, art, culture, and education.

Three committees help drive our development. They are led by: Lars Nittve (Chair, Building Committee), Jimmy Maymann (Chair, Online Committee) and Olafur Eliasson (Chair, Design and Content Committee).

Global Leadership Council

Our Global Leadership Council is a group of inspirational leaders in sustainable development drawn from diverse regions and backgrounds. They provide support and guidance to the Museum and our work.

Ban Ki-moon

Former UN Secretary-General

Ahmad Alhendawi

Secretary-General, World Organization of the Scout Movement

Darren Walker

President, Ford Foundation

Chmba

Founder, Tiwale

Ilwad Elman

Director of Programs & Development, Elman Peace HRC

Jesper Nygård

CEO, Realdania

Ricardo Piquet

President, Museum of Tomorrow

Trisha Shetty

Founder, SheSays

Board of Directors

Our Board of Directors support our executive leadership and steer the Museum’s strategic direction and compliance.

Jan Mattsson (Chair)

Co-Founder, Museum for the United Nations - UN Live

Gunvor Kronman

CEO, Hanaholmen

Julia Goldin

Global Chief Marketing Officer, LEGO

Kathleen Cravero

Professor of Practice at the University of Bridgeport

Mizinga Melu

CEO and MD, Absa Bank Zambia

Mikkel Bülow-Lehnsby

Chairman and Co-founder, NREP

Birgitte Hagemann Snabe

Founder, Young Global Pioneers

Our supporters

Museum for the United Nations - UN Live is being made possible thanks to an extraordinary collaborative effort from hundreds of people and organisations from all disciplines and every corner of the world. We are hugely grateful for all the care, curiosity and excitement that people share and bring to the project.

Dedicated thanks go to:

Our partners

Amity University, Anchorage Museum, BBC Media Action, Canto al Agua, Center for Research & Interdisciplinarity, Count Us In, Exaptive Inc., Fingerprint Content, Greening The Camps, Guardians of the Forest, Hoperaisers, Human Circle, IDEO, If Not Us Then Who, Institute of Sound and Music, Jadal Culture, Kaputt, Liga das Mulheres pelos Oceanos, Loughborough University, Low Carbon City, Manara, Maloka Museum, Movilizatorio, Museum of Tomorrow, Natural History Museum UK, Parque Explora, Pimp my Carroça, Procomum Institute, Purpose, Studio Olafur Eliasson, The Flipflopi Project, Thinc, VozTerra, We Are Museums, WildAid.

Foundations & governments

  • The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
  • Bikubenfonden
  • DANIDA
  • Det Obelske Familiefond
  • Dreyers Fond
  • EIT Climate-KIC
  • Ford Foundation
  • Hempel Fonden
  • Hermod Lannungs Fond
  • Nordeafonden
  • Oak Foundation
  • Rambøll Foundation
  • Realdania

Patrons

  • Alexander Aghassipour, Zendesk
  • Anders Eldrup, Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners
  • Annemette Færch
  • Preben Damgaard, Damgaard Company A/S
  • Henrik Lind, Danske Commodities
  • Jeppe Laurids Hedaa, 7N
  • Jimmy Maymann
  • Mikkel Bülow-Lehnsby, NREP
  • Rasmus Nørgaard, NREP
  • Søren Vestergaard Poulsen, CVC Capital Partners
  • Torben Wind

Companies

  • AKQA
  • Dalberg
  • Designit
  • Horten
  • IDEO
  • Isobar
  • Nordic Development Cooperation
  • NREP
  • PwC

Join us

We are aiming high, moving fast, and know we have a lot to learn. We are excited to hear your ideas, and to continue to grow our network of friends, partners, and supporters. If you’re interested in collaborating with us, have an idea, or a question, please get in touch via hello@museumfortheun.org.

For the most up-to-date news on our activities, events and opportunities, you can follow our social media accounts or leave your details below to receive news directly.

Museum for the United Nations - UN Live
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hello@museumfortheun.org