Exhibit | June 26, 2015

The Morgan Honors Hermann Zapf With an Exhibit

New York, NY, June 25, 2015—In memory of the great type designer, typographer, and calligrapher Hermann Zapf (1918-2015), the Morgan Library & Museum will exhibit one of his most virtuosic creations: a calligraphic manuscript of the preamble of the UN Charter, written in French, English, Spanish, and Russian. The work will be on view from June 26, the date the UN Charter was signed seventy years ago, through October 25, the weekend of UN Day, which marks the date the treaty went into effect. 


Hermann Zapf, creator of the legendary Palatino, Optima, and Zapfino typefaces, died on June 4 at the age of ninety-six. Born in Nuremberg in 1918, he was a master of the alphabet whose career spanned a period of enormous technological change in the field of typography. From the era of hot metal type to the advent of digital fonts, he embraced each new form with grace and innovation. Zapf designed letters that pervade our everyday lives—the beautiful lines of his sans-serif Optima, for example, adorn the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C., and the 9/11 Memorial in New York. His innovative typeface Zapf Dingbats was a precursor to the now-ubiquitous emoji set. His command of letterforms is particularly notable in the astonishing handwork of his calligraphic manuscripts.


The Fellows of the Morgan commissioned the work in 1960 to add a masterpiece of contemporary calligraphy to the museum’s permanent collection, which includes important examples of writing from ancient Egyptian papyri to the modern era.  

The preamble of the UN Charter underscores the founding principles of the international body and contains the famous words: “to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, [and] in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small.”


About the UN anniversary: www.un.org/un70/en

Text of the UN Charter: www.un.org/en/documents/charter/index.shtml

About UN Day: www.un.org/en/events/unday/