The Festsaal: Where History Meets the Future

festsaalAt the 2017 Science and Technology Conference, the Festsaal (Festival Hall) of the Hofburg Palace hosts the poster displays created by scientists and technical experts engaged with the CTBTO. The Festsaal, constructed between 1908 and 1923, is the largest room of the former residence of the Austrian monarchy. In this opulent space Austrian monarchs would have hosted their grandest balls and most extravagant displays of splendor to their guests.


The decision to display science in the most impressive space in the palace is by no means an accident. Science and technology are the foundations of the CTBT’s verification regime.


The poetry of placing science and technology in the Festsaal should not be lost. The paintings on the walls of former Austrian emperors and heroes like Metternich, Eugene of Savoy, and Jan Sobieski look down on a flurry of scientific activity below. The paintings represent the past, the science and technology below are the future. On the ceiling, allegoric personifications of religion, justice, science, agriculture, and other elements of civilization and the human experience symbolize the ideals that the scientists below represent and have devoted their work to protect.


Despite its grandeur, the artwork of the Festsaal remains unfinished, interrupted by the Second World War. So too is the work of the CTBTO. Entry into force of the Treaty continues to be a sought-after and elusive goal. Yet on one of the walls is the personal motto of Franz Joseph I: “Viribus Unitis,” or “with united strength.” These words capture the remarkable spirit shared by these scientists and technical experts of so many countries in the Festsaal. That spirit will need to endure amongst all supporters of the CTBT, especially the scientific community, both young and old, if indeed we are to finish what we started and build in time a world free of nuclear explosions.

 

CTBTO Youth Group members Ben Chao, Aditi Malhotra, and Beenish Pervaiz

Vienna, June 28 2017