Wende Museum Opens to the Public

Built to Withstand an Atomic Blast

It’s a fitting location for the Wende Museum: the former National Guard Armory. The Armory, built in 1949 has fallout shelters in anticipation of a nuclear attack on the United States. Fortunately the bomb hardened shelters were never needed.

The bunkers became obsolete in the 1950’s with the introduction of the more powerful Hydrogen bomb.

The Wende Museum opened in its expanded new location last weekend displaying a Cold War archive of more than 100,000 Soviet and Eastern European artifacts in the former National Guard Armory in Culver City.

Founded by historian Justinian Jampol he created the museum in 2002. The museum had been housed for more than 10 years in a Culver City business park where it could only show a small fraction of the collection.

"For the first time we will be able to offer visitors a representative selection of the wide variety of our holdings," says the Wende's chief curator, Joes Segal.

The stated mission of the Wende Museum is to “preserve Cold War art, culture, and history from the Soviet Bloc countries, inspire a broad understanding of the period, and explore its enduring legacy.”

Named for the Wende (pronounced “venda”), a German word meaning “turning point” or “change” that has come to describe the transformative period leading up to and following the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the Wende Museum said.

The museum has a 75-year lease with the city and a $5m fundraising campaign to remodel the site gives the museum 13,000 sq. ft of exhibition and storage space, with room for a library of more than 25,000 books and a cold vault for 3,000 rare films.

The free-admission venue will host six shows a year in two galleries, and other objects from the collection will be visible in extensive open-storage displays, grouped by themes such as Lenin busts, spy equipment, diplomatic gifts and Checkpoint Charlie.

In line with the museum's open-access ethos visitors will also be able to watch exhibitions being installed during changeover periods, Segal says.

The collection-based inaugural exhibition, Cold War Spaces (until 29 April 2018), will also have loans from private collections, artists and the London-based Archive of Modern Conflict. With eight sections exploring the "paradoxes and ambiguities" of the Socialist state, the show promises "a richer and more complex understanding of life behind the Iron Curtain", Segal says.

For more information on the museum go online to: http://www.wendemuseum.org/


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