The Associates of the American Foreign Service Worldwide (AAFSW) hosted a program that featured a virtual tour of the diplomatic reception rooms on the 7th and 8th floor of the Department of State building. Presenting the program was Marcee Craighill, the Director and Curator of the Diplomatic Reception Rooms,
Department of State.
Ms. Craighill, via a colorful PowerPoint presentation and film, led the packed audience — including a couple of Ambassadors, 10 ambassador’s wives representing Europe, Asia, Africa, Latin America, and officers and spouses from many diplomatic missions and other institutions — on a tour of some of the most elegant, secretive, and glamorous spaces in Washington, DC, or anywhere in the world, for that matter.
The diplomatic reception rooms are designed to feature the best of early American history by way of the decorative period art of the 18th and 19th centuries, when the fledgling new nation gained its independence and artists and artisans were given free rein to showcase the best of the American spirit. The period pieces are art reflected in paintings, sculptures, furniture, tapestry, and stationery and are priceless heirlooms.
But it’s not all about the beautiful decorations: the reception rooms are where delicate negotiations and elegant representational and entertaining functions are carried out. There are no better places to wow a visiting dignitary or delegation. Ms. Craighill showed a film where former Secretaries of State lauded the rooms and were grateful to have such elegant rooms for their work.
The presentation made a strong impression as most of the audience immediately signed up for a tour of the reception rooms at a later date. For US Department of State employees who seldom, if ever, get to visit these rooms, this is a wonderful opportunity to see where history is (and has been) made. For other diplomatic staff from foreign missions, it will be a delightful history lesson on the founding of America and the values that Americans hold dear.
Thank you Ms. Craighill for a most informative and entertaining program and we look forward to the guided tour of the rooms.