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The History of the NSG Logo


At the time of the 1999 Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) Plenary, hosted by the Italian government in the city of Florence, the city government honoured the NSG with the rights to use one of Michelangelo Buonarroti’s architectural designs. The Campidoglio pattern has been part of the NSG logo since.

Working between 1536 and 1546, Michelangelo designed the Piazza del Campidoglio as a civic centre and a grand symbol of Rome.  The 1568 engraving by Étienne Dúperac was an early depiction of Michelangelo's solution to unifying the irregular shape of the Capitoline hilltop and to provide harmony to the piazza.  The new Piazza del Campidoglio included three palazzi that did not face each other squarely.  The piazza is best approached by the staircase called the Cordonata, which brings visitors skyward up a long and steep slope to reach the centre of city government.  Michelangelo’s design for the piazza successfully accommodates the unevenness of the hilltop and trapezoidal arrangement of buildings and is slightly egg-shaped and not oval, narrower at the northwest end nearest the Cordonata.  The design itself is a variation of common Renaissance geometric designs featuring circles and squares.  The twelve-pointed star of inter-laced lines reminded many viewers of constellations revolving around a space called Caput mundi, Latin for "head of the world."  Accordingly, Michelangelo’s Campidoglio design was not welcomed by the Church, which might have detected a less-than-Christian context.  Little was completed before Michelangelo’s death in 1564.  The final paving was only completed in 1940.

Michelangelo’s design was used to bring harmony and order to the irregularly-shaped Capitoline hilltop.  For the NSG it symbolizes the Participating Governments’ continuing effort to bring order to a sometimes uneven export control system and non-proliferation landscape.

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