Roosevelt House is pleased to present a discussion of Mosaic: War Monument Mystery, a unique study of public monuments and public memory by acclaimed designer Louis Nelson. The author will be in conversation with the Jonathan Fanton Director of Roosevelt House, Harold Holzer.

In 1990, Louis Nelson was asked to design the mural at the center of the Korean War Memorial in Washington. Now he has produced an insightful and moving historical memoir covering that important assignment—and exploring the sometimes stormy history of public monuments in America.

Mosaic takes readers behind the scenes of the research, design, and execution of the Korean War Veterans Memorial on the National Mall—a work Nelson created to highlight the courage and dedication of the ordinary soldiers who served.

Offering a window into Nelson’s extraordinary career as an industrial designer, the book also explores stories of the Korean War veterans who inspired the mural. Mosaic provides not just an enlightening personal history, folded into the history of an often-forgotten war, but also a probing inquiry into the changing nature of American memory.

According to former Interim Director of Roosevelt House Jonathan Fanton: “Mosaic illuminates how war memorials honor both the victims and survivors of war… Louis Nelson has written an important book that illustrates how the design of the Korean War memorial calls forth our determination to prevent war and work for a more hopeful, peaceful future.”


Louis Nelson is a visiting lecturer at Harvard University, Pratt Institute, Stockholm’ s Konstfack University, and Seoul’s Hongik University. As an industrial designer, his works have ranged from the Korean War Veterans Memorial mural to the Dag Hammarskjöld Medal for the United Nations to the FDA’s Nutrition Facts label. He also developed designs for the World War I and World War II memorials in Washington, and the 9/11 memorials in Manhattan and at the Pentagon. His honors include Pratt Institute’s Career Achievement Award, IDSA Industrial Design Excellence Award, and a nomination for the Smithsonian National Design Medal. He lives in New York with his wife, the noted singer, author and performer, Judy Collins.

Harold Holzer has served since 2015 as the Jonathan F. Fanton Director of the Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute. A prolific author with more than 50 books to his credit, he won the 2015 Gilder Lehrman Prize for his Lincoln and the Power of the Press: The War for Public Opinion, and earlier earned a 2008 National Humanities Medal and co-chaired the U. S. Lincoln Bicentennial Commission. He wrote the 2019 biography of the sculptor of the Lincoln Memorial, Monument Man: The Life and Art of Daniel Chester French.


Louis Nelson — Mosaic: War Monument Mystery | Posted on September 6th, 2022 | Book Discussions, Public Programs