Art, peace, and sustainability: mural unveiled at Vienna International Centre

Standing 50 metres tall and stretching 20 metres wide, building B of the Vienna International Centre (VIC), home to the United Nations in the Austrian capital, has been transformed with a striking mural created by artist Fintan Magee.

Covering nearly 1,000 square metres (about twice the area of a basketball court), the artwork required over 300 litres of sustainably sourced paint and took three weeks to complete.

Named ‘Woman with Dove - Shaping Our Common Future’, the theme of the mural aligns with Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 16, emphasising peaceful and inclusive societies, access to justice for all, and the promotion of effective, accountable institutions at every level. This artistic endeavour resonates deeply with the UN's mission, where efforts are concentrated on fostering international peace and cooperation and advancing justice globally.

Magee, referred to as Australia's Banksy, explained, “The site and location were my first inspirations. The mural needed to blend with the UN's architecture and mission. I painted a girl with a dove, symbolising humanity and the fragility of peace, to remind us that while peace is possible, it requires constant effort.”

Artist Fintan Magee speaking to crowd during unveiling ceremony of mural

Unveiling ceremony of mural outside Vienna International Centre

“When you put a piece of work on the street, it takes on a life of its own. I wanted to keep my messaging simple for the UN mural because it is important to recognise and portray their work. Beyond that, people can take what they want from it.”

Executive Secretary Robert Floyd meeting with Magee in front of partially completed artwork at Vienna International Centre

Lower section of mural with signature of artist Magee

During the painting process, the 39-year-old artist had the opportunity to meet with Robert Floyd, the Executive Secretary of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), also an Australian national.

Floyd praised the mural, describing it as "a powerful image symbolising peace in our fragile world and underscoring the crucial role of women in this mission."

The mural is one of several activities marking the 45th anniversary of the Vienna International Centre, which opened in 1979. This impactful artwork will be seen by over 50,000 annual visitors to the VIC, as well as thousands of pedestrians and transit riders who pass by each day.

Tactile information board promoting accessibility of mural for individuals with disabilities

Crowd during unveiling ceremony of mural in lawn of ‘UNO City’

In line with the UN’s commitment to disability inclusion, the artwork will also be accessible through two tactile information boards.

The street art project was made possible through the collaborative efforts of the Calle Libre art festival, the City of Vienna, the Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Labour and Economy, the Australian Permanent Mission in Vienna, and private sector entities. 

The mural was officially unveiled on Friday, 28 June. Despite the intense heat, scores of people - from children to senior dignitaries - filled the lawn in front of the VIC, also known as UNO City in German, eager to witness the ceremony. Many attendees held umbrellas to shield themselves from the scorching sun, adding a splash of colour to the vibrant scene.