This is the United Nations headquarters in New York City. Completed in 1952, the complex just finished the last major parts of a $1.9 billion renovation to coincide with the imminent opening of the 69th UN General Assembly.
Each year, over a million tourists come to visit the historic site and walk the same hallowed halls as the makers and shapers of international diplomacy.
There is also an elephant with a giant erect penis on display. But we'll get to that later.
The UN, you see, is full of art that countries traditionally give to honor historic events and leaders in international diplomacy.
This means that the halls are replete with an eclectic hodgepodge of artistic gems that range from the strange to the pretty bad ass, like this golden Dodo.
BuzzFeed News took a tour of sorts in June. The average visitor enters the UN at the 46th Street entrance and their first sight is St. George on a dragon fighting off... none other than nuclear war!
The former-Soviet Union commissioned this evil-slaying dragon as a gift in 1990. The statue is made of decommissioned Soviet SS-20 and US Pershing II missiles.
It's kind of like DIY, only with dangerous military waste.
Moving inside to the North Lawn building, interpretive wall paintings like this one presented by Belarus in 1991 add a little pizzaz to the mundaneness of white halls and suits.
One floor up, these portraits of UN Secretaries General look like paintings — but psych! They are tapestries gifted by Iran starting in 1997.
Heading back outdoors, the UN rose and statue gardens provide a striking view of New York City's skyline.
But visitors beware: due to the construction, this is also where unused UN statues have gone to (temporarily) die. And it's a bit creepy.
Moving inside to the Secretariat Building (where the big shots roam), don't miss this old recording equipment randomly on display in a hallway. So hipster.
Nearby, check out this Danish teakwood sculpture that was designed to represent decolonization. The sculpture is perched in a corner of the Trusteeship Council's chamber, a body tasked in 1945 with overseeing decolonizing countries.
Speaking of scandal, former Secretary-General Boutros Ghali came under fire in 2000 after the artist of the portrait on the right alleged that Ghali never paid. (The UN does not pay for artwork; rather, it's donated.)
There're way more gems, too. Like this circa-1985 Norman Rockwell mosaic.
And this UN model made of legos on display at the gift shop.
In comparison, the "stakeout" – where reporters jostle to interview UN Security Council representatives after important sessions — is kind of visually underwhelming.
Now back to that elephant with the giant penis. From afar, it seems like just another unassuming giant elephant hidden in the well-kept bushes behind security at the 46th Street entrance.
But zoom in for a frontal view — and there's a giant erect penis happy to see you.
The 11-foot-tall statue was a gift from Kenya, Namibia and Nepal in 1998 and was made from the cast of a real African bull elephant, the AP reported. An unexpected outcome of the casting made the animal's penis part of the show, according to UN lore.
UN officials have carefully hidden the animal's true size behind shrubbery — but that doesn't mean you can't get up close and personal to the dirty little secrets of UN diplomacy.
The art of the UN, ladies and gentlemen.
Former BuzzFeed World Reporter, Current BuzzFeed News Contributor
Contact Miriam Berger at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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