The Wende Is Open and Better
November 30, 2017
On Saturday Nov 18 Wende Museum, a museum that preserves Cold War art, opened its doors to the public once again.
Located at what was formerly known as the National Guard Armory, the Wende has revived what seemed to be a withering structure and preserved the cultural facilities of Culver City. The current facility is three times larger than its previous one, which means that more Cold War artifacts and fine arts will be out on display for museum-goers.
This is certainly a blessing as the museum is now able to house three stories worth of books from the Soviet Blocs in the Cold War era. As a matter of fact, two of the four walls in Wende are bookshelves that reach the ceiling.
Visitors are given the liberty of taking out the books and reading them. Although, the books are written in the various language spoken in the Soviet Bloc, it is quite amazing to be given the opportunity to flip through the pages and see what people had to say about the Cold War.
Unlike many museums in Los Angeles, the vision of Wende began with what Andre De-Salis, a longtime friend of the Wende Museum called 'trash.' His wife Sarah Gavit noted that 'generations were getting older and had stuff in their closets that they wanted to throw out. These people were asking 'what will do with this'. A lot of people donated their old belongings because they did not know what to do with them.'
Fortunately, these seemingly worthless items caught the attention of Justinian Jampol, founder of the Wende, and has become what Sarah calls 'a very special and unique place.'
Of course, the Wende has not just been a "trash" collection site, with 10 years under its belt, it has contributed immensely in the cultural relevance of the greater Los Angeles area. The most well known contribution of the Wende is the Berlin Wall installation located on Miracle mile, but a lesser well-known gift of the Wende is its impact on Cold War research.
Theofil Ruiz, board member of The Wende and professor at UCLA, mentioned that "The Wende Museum began as a collection site for research at Buckingham Parkway." He further noted that "it was the energy and perseverance of Justinian Jampol to make this place an exhibit....and it was 10 years in the making." This is partly the reason every member of the Wende, board member and interns included, think of this place as their 'child.' From an on looker's point of view, it seems that every individual was fully invested in making this museum the best place it can be, and it certainly succeeded.
With art spanning from every day wedding photography to undercover, highly classified maps of Berlin, each aspect of the Soviet Bloc is expressed in the most transparent way possible. In fact, it seems that transparency is the main goal of the Wende, as they have open storage. So, visitors have access to every artwork available at the Wende and can see the artifacts that will circulate throughout the year.
Overall, the Wende is truly a gem in Los Angeles and a dynamic learning hub. It helps elucidate some of the unclear and daunting aspects of the Cold War, in addition to preserving the artifacts from the Soviet Bloc. With busts of Vladimir Lenin and Yuri Gagarin, as well as Khrushchev's car welcoming you at the front entrance, it is extremely clear that the founders, board members, curators, and all the Wende staff have been working hard to make this museum the best it can possibly be.
Shout out to one of our amazing sponsors, Culver City chiropractor Dr. Craig Abrams.