Diplomatic Reception Rooms, U.S. Department of State

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Supporting America’s History

The Diplomatic Reception Rooms are a testimony to American philanthropy — to the generosity of patriotic individuals, corporations, and foundations. Today, the total value of this uniquely American exercise in private philanthropy is $125 million.

The Fund for the Endowment of the Diplomatic Reception Rooms was established in 1982 at the request of the Rooms’ founding curator Clement Conger, whose vision it was to turn the sterile modern reception areas at the top of the new Harry S. Truman building into architectural re-creations of rooms from America’s colonial and Federal past. To do so, he would need a fortune.

“This is no small task, since every expense is paid for with donations. But the honor of participating in the making of strong international relations — of being a part of the making of our history — has kept the project afloat in the past, and with the American people and their patriotism hard at our backs, these Diplomatic Reception Rooms will continue to flourish, to fine tune, to be central to American diplomacy.”
Clem Conger — Founding Curator

Since 1982, the Fund for the Endowment of the Diplomatic Reception Rooms has evolved into a public-private partnership whereby the Fund invests donations in the private sector while government, by law, must invest in Treasury securities. As a public organization, the Fund is the only 501(c)3 designated to fund projects in the Diplomatic Reception Rooms and is able to uniquely support the Office of Fine Arts.

Working with the Office of Fine Arts, the Fund underwrites needed acquisitions, maintenance projects, and educational programming. Numerous furnishings and works of art have been acquired by the Fund and are now in use in the Rooms as part of the permanent collection. In 2011, the Fund undertook the underwriting and oversight of the critical conservation effort done on the Secretaries of State Terrace. The magnificent rooftop space offers 7,000 square feet and sweeping views of the Mall. In 2015, the Fund underwrote major renovations to the Secretary’s Suite. These important rooms on the 8th floor, including the James Monroe Reception Room, the James Madison Dining Room and the Secretary’s Foyer, are used to conduct diplomacy at the highest levels. The Fund has also recently underwritten the production of an educational video, an annual grant for the employment of an Art Education & Museum Specialist since 2017, the cleaning and conservation of 16 American rugs, curtain replacement and repair, and the renovation of four interior elevators.

The Fund was launched under the leadership of Leonard Marks and Albert H. Small, who served as Treasurer until his death in 2021, and is now chaired by the Honorable Jane Sloat Ritchie. She, along with a dozen board members and the support of an esteemed Honorary Board, continues the important work of ensuring that the generosity of American citizens supports, sustains, and maintains the Diplomatic Reception Rooms.

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