The World Food Prize Foundation

Borlaug Ballroom

The Borlaug Ballroom is the single largest room in the Hall of Laureates and the space that is most transformed, located on the south side of the Rotunda. In the original library design, this area served as the Stacks Room and was actually a two-story space, separated with a glass floor and completely filled with bookcases. The room was a plain, utilitarian space. The original design can still be seen, as one part of the glass floor has been preserved as a balcony. The historic placement of the bookcases is marked in the new wood floors with a diagonal woodgrain pattern, suggesting their original location.

This storage area has now been transformed into an elegant gathering space honoring Dr. Borlaug. The room tells his story through several key elements:

Borlaug Portrait: A large portrait of Dr. Borlaug was created by the artist Chas Fagan of North Carolina, who has works in the White House and at the U.S. Capitol in Washington. Fagan also designed the magnificent frame for the portrait, which incorporates wheat as well as asterisks (*), which Dr. Borlaug used in his notebooks to evaluate the new wheat varieties he was cultivating.

Representations of Borlaug’s Noteworthy Awards: Recognizing his incredible achievements, Dr. Norman Borlaug was awarded with the Nobel Peace Prize, the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal. Only three American citizens have ever received that trifecta of honors. Dr. Borlaug is one. The other two are Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Elie Wiesel, the Holocaust survivor. 

Tapestries: Four tapestries, created by artist John Collier, illustrate the most important phases of Dr. Borlaug’s life and the institutions that affected him most: New Oregon Township Number Eight, his one-room schoolhouse near Cresco, Iowa; the CIMMYT lab in Mexico where he did his research; Punjab, the area he worked in India and Pakistan; and Africa, where he continued to work into the last years of his life.

Ornamental Bowls: Ten bowls around the ballroom represent the areas of work for which the World Food Prize is awarded. One is left empty, illustrating the ongoing need to fight hunger across the globe.

To view photo gallery of the Borlaug Ballroom, click here. 

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