The mission of the Ship of Tolerance is to educate and connect the youth of different continents, cultures, and identities through the language of art.

“Human beings are members of a whole,
In creation of one essence and soul.
If one member is afflicted with pain,
Other members uneasy will remain.
If you’ve no sympathy for human pain,
The name of human you cannot retain.”
-- Saadi

It is a conceptual piece that is meant to reflect how divergent cultures interpret tolerance and how these interpretations overlap. The ship’s sails are stitched together from paintings by hundreds of local schoolchildren from different ethnic and social backgrounds, and will convey a message of tolerance and hope. By participating in the creation of this ship children will learn about respecting different cultures and ideas while appreciating how they differ from their own. In short, through this creative process, they will both demonstrate and gain a vibrant lesson in tolerance.

Eleven previous interpretations of this project have taken place in:  Siwa, EgyptVenice, ItalySan Moritz, SwitzerlandSharjah, UAEMiami, FL, USAHavana, Cuba;  New York, NY, USAMoscow, RussiaZug, SwitzerlandCapalbio, Italy and Rome, Italy.


 The project begins with an outreach to schoolchildren ages 8 to 12 to discuss the meaning of tolerance and the merits of other cultures, races, and ideas. For three weeks they will work with local teaching artists to expand their own cultural, creative, and academic horizons. At the end of the workshop period, children will draw pictures, some of which will become part of the installation.

Children will view the ship’s construction — and meet the young carpenter apprentices from Manchester, England who will be building the boat. Selected paintings created by the children will form a giant sail, hoisted atop the just constructed ship.

The entire process will take 3-4 weeks, and during that time, hundreds of visitors will come by daily to view the construction, learn about the project, and be inspired by its message.

The ship’s launch is the project’s climax. Beautifully lit, the ship creates an atmosphere of joy and celebration for participants, including children, supporters, friends, local community leaders and the general public.



The first Ship of Tolerance was first built in 2005 in Siwa, Egypt to engage children and young adults in an active discussion surrounding tolerance in their daily lives.

Participant we are given vivid exposure to different cultures and ideas while creating astonishing works of art. These drawings and paintings were later sewn together to form a mosaic sail, which was mounted atop a ship. The construction of the ship itself was part of the performance, with high school students coming in from Manchester, England to build the vessel from the keel up under the guidance of master carpenters working from the Kabakov’s designs.

Kabakov’s recreated the project in Venice, Italy in 2005 for the Venice Biennale and in St. Moritz, Switzerland in 2009 where it has received a prestigious Cartier Award.

The project has garnered global media coverage and tremendous attention in each host country’s news and cultural outlets. The Ship of Tolerance has become a unique symbol in each host country’s collective consciousness, a symbol that change with each new launch according to the unique political and cultural reality of each setting.




 Creating together, in spite of our differences, something bigger than ourselves, something of monumental beauty that inspires community celebration.

The Ship of Tolerance gives thousands of young people around the world the opportunity to create and celebrate a monumental accomplishment together. They learn about tolerance, the arts, and what it means to respect other cultures.

The ship’s construction and launch entail:

  • A collaboration of a large number of community-based organizations

  • The direct participation of 300 youths painting of the sails

  • Dozens of teenagers as Ambassadors to the project

  • 1,000+ visitors per day viewing the construction

  • Extensive coverage in local news, arts, and education media