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Press release

In Honor of World Refugee Day, The Metropolitan Museum of Art Joins the International Rescue Committee’s Global Campaign to Spotlight Contributions By Refugees

World Refugee Day

(New York, June 17, 2019)—In honor of World Refugee Day, June 20, The Metropolitan Museum of Art has joined the International Rescue Committee (IRC) in its global campaign to highlight works of art created by refugees, in an effort to show what would be lost without their contributions. The campaign kicked off today with a joint press conference at The Met in front of Marc Chagall’s The Lovers (1913–14), which will be shrouded June 17–20. Chagall was one of 1,500 refugees who were spirited out of France between 1940 and 1941 as part of a rescue effort by the organization that became the IRC. At both The Met Fifth Avenue and The Met Breuer, the Museum will spotlight additional art created by refugees by adding yellow labels that identify the works as made by refugees and that invite visitors to share art made by refugees on social media using the hashtag #WorldRefugeeDay and tagging @metmuseum and @theirc.

“The Met collection—which presents 5,000 years art from across time and every corner of the globe—reveals the indelible impact that refugees have had both on the history of art and on the understanding of creative expression,” said Max Hollein, Director of the Museum. “From the artists whose works grace our galleries, to the visitors who walk through our doors, to those who enable the Museum’s mission in any number of ways, The Met is committed to welcoming refugees and celebrating their past and present accomplishments and contributions.”

“We are honored to partner with The Met and spotlight the contributions refugees have made to art,” said David Miliband, president and CEO of the International Rescue Committee. “Marc Chagall, a pioneer of modern art who was resettled by the IRC, symbolizes one of the many ways refugees have shaped our world for the better, not only in the arts but in so many aspects of our society and culture.”

Sheena Wagstaff, the Museum’s Leonard A. Lauder Chairman of Modern and Contemporary Art, added, “Each work of art at The Met speaks to us from several perspectives. Take, for example, the multiple truths in the stories of migration embedded in the mysterious lexicon of a Sudanese artist whose painting has a secret underside, or the depths of shimmering abstract color planes captured by a Russian Jewish artist who described its sensuality as a human element and his hope of making ‘a tragic concept more endurable’. Our hope at The Met is that visitors come away from the galleries with a greater awareness of what the idea of home means in the context of those who cannot return to theirs.”

In addition to Chagall’s The Lovers, two works by Max Beckmann—The Beginning (1946–49) and The Old Actress (1926) —Max Ernst’s Gala Éluard (1924), and Piet Modrian’s Composition (1921) will be featured at The Met Fifth Avenue. At The Met Breuer, Ibrahim El-Salahi’s Alphabets No. 2 (1962; reworked 1968), Sopheap Pich’s Ratanakiri Valley Drip (2012), and an untitled work by Mark Rothko from the mid-1940s will also be highlighted for World Refugee Day. These works are included in the exhibition Home Is a Foreign Place: Recent Acquisitions in Context—a timely thematic installation that asks viewers to reconsider what it means to make a home in the world, whether by chance, necessity, or choice (on view through June 2020).

About The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Met presents over 5,000 years of art from around the world for everyone to experience and enjoy. The Museum lives in three iconic sites in New York City—The Met Fifth AvenueThe Met Breuer, and The Met Cloisters. Millions of people also take part in The Met experience online.

Since it was founded in 1870, The Met has always aspired to be more than a treasury of rare and beautiful objects. Every day, art comes alive in the Museum’s galleries and through its exhibitions and events, revealing both new ideas and unexpected connections across time and across cultures.

About the International Rescue Committee
The International Rescue Committee responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises, helping to restore health, safety, education, economic well-being, and power to people devastated by conflict and disaster. Founded in 1933 at the call of Albert Einstein, the IRC is at work in over 40 countries and 25 offices across the U.S., helping people to survive, reclaim control of their future, and strengthen their communities. Learn more at and follow the IRC on Twitter and Facebook.



June 18, 2019

Image: Marc Chagall (French, 1887–1985). The Lovers, 1913–14. Oil on canvas, 42 7/8 × 53 in. (108.9 × 134.6 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection, 1998 © 2019 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

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