The World Food Prize Foundation

Ruan Laureates Room

THE RUAN LAUREATE ROOM is divided into three separate but connected spaces, each of which has a compelling story to tell.

The Main Room's History of Agriculture: The large central area first entered off of the Rotunda is available for lectures and social events. The room decor represents significant people and places in the history of agriculture.

Agricultural Leader Squinches: 21 names are inscribed in gold leaf in the “squinches,” reflecting agricultural leaders throughout human history, including people such as Da Yu, partial emperor of China in 2197 BCE, Gregor Mendel, the father of modern genetics, and Lady Eve Balfour, a founding member of the organic farming movement. 

Artistic Representations for the Origins of Agriculture: A diverse array of artwork from cultures around the world depicts harvest scenes;  African sculptures of antelope, the symbol for agricultural productivity in Mali; and a reproduction of a Diego Rivera mural, among others.

Glass Globe: A stained glass globe illustrates 12 areas where food production and agriculture originated.

The First Farmer : A sculpture was designed to represent an early Sumerian female farmer with a digging stick, which was the very first implement used to till the ground, with a basket for seeds or harvest.

The Laureate Alcove: In the alcove, each of the 51 World Food Prize Laureates are represented by an engraved plaque. The squinches in the Laureate Alcove are made up of scenes from the World Food Prize 10th anniversary commemorative artwork created in 1996 by Jeff VanEchaute and Paul Lange of Iowa.  

Laureate Mosaics: Two intricate glass mosaics depict Dr. M.S. Swaminathan of India, the first World Food Prize Laureate honored in 1987; and Dr. Evangelina Villegas of Mexico, who was the first female Laureate, honored in 2000. 

The Ruan Lounge: To celebrate his contribution to the World Food Prize, John Ruan Sr. is recognized through several mediums, including four plaques that recount the history of the World Food Prize.

  • The lounge is dedicated to the story of John Ruan Sr. and his role in rescuing the World Food Prize and bringing it to Iowa in 1990.  The State of Iowa had been encouraged to save the World Food Prize by a December 24, 1989, editorial in The Des Moines Register. There is a plaque in the Ruan Lounge containing the full text of that editorial.  
  • The second plaque contains an etching  of John Ruan Sr. speaking at the first World Food Prize conference held in Des Moines, in October 1990. It also notes that Governor Terry Branstad and State Senator Leonard Boswell were instrumental in early funding.  
  • Another plaque tells the story of the founding of the “General Foods World Food Prize” in 1986, depicting the first meeting of the Council of Advisors.  The announcement of the creation of the General Foods World Food Prize took place in May, 1986.
  • A fourth plaque, also based on a drawing by David Johnson, depicts the creation of the World Food Prize Global Youth Institute in 1994. 
  • At the south end of the lounge is a portrait of John Ruan Sr., done by the noted artist Chas Fagan of North Carolina.

To view photo gallery of the Ruan Laureate Room, click here.

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