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Mandela Day

New York, New York

Mandela Day 1

In 2009, the United Nations designated each July 18 as Mandela Day. The Nelson Mandela Foundation wishes the day to be marked as a global call to action, urging people to recognize their power to change the world around them.

Mandela Day 2

In its inaugural year, RAA was asked to produce an exhibition that would relay Mandela’s experiences as an anti-apartheid activist, political prisoner, and his eventual election as the country’s first black president – and would also promote key themes of global civic participation.

Mandela Day 4
Mandela Day 4

RAA’s response was to create a set of compelling interactive installations, to be installed within a space classified as the most heavily foot-trafficked corridor in the entire metropolis. Each installation was based on a giant back-lit “action word” that aimed to spur visitors to join specific civic and global causes. On the front of each word was a key message that reveals Mandela’s values and inspired visitors to act. The back of each word has detailed information about Nelson Mandela’s life, stories, and speeches.

Mandela Day 5
Mandela Day 7
Mandela Day 7

“Listen” contains messages relating to his most powerful speeches; “Learn” presents Nelson Mandela’s biography; “Unite” recalls inspiring stories in which Mr. Mandela showed the importance of reconciliation; “Act” explains the work of the different foundations that Nelson Mandela founded; “Speak” asks visitors to speak up against injustice; and “Lead” allows visitors to write their pledge to help at a local cause of their choosing. As inspirational background, a large-scale film traced Mandela’s legacy though historical and contemporary footage and animated graphics.

Mandela Day 8

The result was a successful “live” public experience that elevated other elements of the Mandela Foundation’s public-relations campaign, and culminated that year with a star-studded concert at Radio City Music Hall.

Year 2009

Size 12,000 square feet

Mandela Day 9

Photography © Albert Vecerka/Esto