The magnificent Rotunda, into which all visitors enter, contains elements of several stories that are emphasized throughout the building.
Stained Glass Window: A 20-foot-high stained glass window at the top of the grand staircase depicts a family in the classical times bringing in their harvest. It was created by Franz Mayer Architectural Glass and Mosaic Company of Munich, Germany, which has been producing stained glass works since 1847. The Franz Mayer studio has previous connections to Iowa; its stained-glass windows can be found in churches across the state. The design is based upon original images from a sculpture done by Christian Petersen, the Danish immigrant artist who worked in the 1930s at Iowa State University as part of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) project.
Grain Sculptures: Four metal grain sculptures on the corner columns of the rotunda depict the four primary crops involved in feeding the world: wheat, rice, corn and soy. Medallions at the base of each shows the name of the crop in English and in the language of the place where the crop originated.
Lunette Murals: Four lunette murals surrounding the dome of the Rotunda trace Dr. Borlaug’s life and work around the globe, showing his Iowa boyhood home near Cresco, Iowa; an agricultural scene in Mexico, where he developed miracle wheat, his most significant breakthrough discovery; scenes from India and Pakistan, where in the 1960s Dr. Borlaug convinced leaders to adopt his new approach to agriculture, thus saving hundreds of millions of people from possible starvation; and Africa, which Dr. Borlaug focused on during the last decades of his life.
Original Skylight: The stained-glass skylight is original to the building. During the renovation process, the World Food Prize had each of the 10,000 pieces of glass inspected, cleaned, polished, and if needed, repaired by The Stained Glass Store in Des Moines. It then became one of the first artistic aspects of the building to be placed inside during renovation.
Quotes: Visitors to the Hall of Laureates are greeted by quotes around the four sides of the rotunda, all of which harken to the meaning and purpose of the World Food Prize. Perhaps the most important is a quote over the grand staircase, attributed to Dr. Norman Borlaug: "Food is the moral right of all who are born into this world.”