BENJAMIN H OEHLERT
US AMBASSADOR AND ART COLLECTOR
Art in the Embassy programme
I was sitting in the American Ambassador’s house in Islamabad, and the Lady Ambassador brought a can of real fresh Coca-cola. No cans were there in the market then. It was a new experience, and brought by the President of the Coca-cola company of the world, honourably appointed as an American Ambassador to Pakistan. The Oehlerts were fond of Art and collected same from all over the world. They lived in Everglades Club, Florida, USA.
At the inauguration ceremony of AMAL-E-CHUGHTAI in 1968, done by President Ayub Khan, at Alhamra Lahore, the American Ambassador had come from Islamabad to be part of same. Oehlert initiated the ART IN THE EMBASSY PROGRAMME in Islamabad, and put paintings of Pakistani Artists in the embassy itself. All this was being done to win the heart and souls of Pakistanis.
The Oehlerts kept in touch with us even after retirement, and in 1975, after the death of the artist M A Rahman Chughtai, became Honorary Adviser to our Academy of Arts, later which turned into CHUGHTAI MUSEUM. The tradition of Americans in love with Chughtai Art was very long. Many American Presidents had Chughtai Art in their collection and archives. The US Department building itself has four Art works of M A Rahman Chughtai. The Kennedy Memorial in Boston has one painting. There are many others in American archives. The Art of M.A. Rahman brought peace and good will between the two countries all the time.