Telling the Story
While over 300 museums honor the service and sacrifice of the U.S. military, no American museum is dedicated solely to U.S. diplomacy. Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger observed that the men and women who serve as U.S. diplomats “are unsung, [they are] on the front lines every day, doing things which…define where America stands, what Americans can achieve.” Former Secretary of State James A. Baker referred to the U.S. Foreign Service, the country’s diplomatic corps, as a “national treasure.”
But who is telling their story? The goals of the U.S. Diplomacy Center are to:
--Promote understanding of U.S. diplomacy and the work of the Department of State as the lead federal agency for foreign affairs
--Promote understanding of how diplomacy is important to each individual
--Reveal how diplomacy has shaped our nation’s history
--Honor the service and sacrifice of U.S. diplomats, past and present
The U.S. Diplomacy Center will open in two phases. Phase 1 comprises the Pavilion and Hall 1 exhibits. Phase 2 comprises exhibits in Halls II and III. Hall 1, "America in the World" introduces the basic principles and importance of diplomacy and the work of the U.S. Department of State. Hall II, "Diplomacy in Action" covers diplomatic history, the work of embassies, and the dangers diplomats encounter. Hall III, "Advancing Diplomacy" contains a wired classroom, hands-on activities, and a changing gallery space.
A prominent feature of Hall 1 is a curving wall with a band of flags from all nations with whom the U.S. maintains official diplomatic relations. The array of flags emphasizes the breadth of U.S. diplomatic relations across the globe. Diplomatic relations are essential for the U.S. to maximize its global interests, which in turn have an impact on visitor’s lives.
Another prominent feature of Hall 1 is a large world map pinpointed with every U.S. diplomatic post, including consulates, embassies, and missions. The colors of the map coincide with the official Department of State Foreign Service map, dividing the world into regions. Clocks which mimic those found in the Department’s Operations Center emphasize that diplomacy is a 24/7 endeavor.
A semi-enclosed theater provides a short orientation film to the Department of State and the diplomats who work here. The film will help answer the questions, “What is diplomacy?” and “How does diplomacy affect me?” Adjacent to the theater is the exhibit “Inside the Secretary’s Day” where visitors find a portrait of the current Secretary of State and an audio recording of the Secretary. An interactive station provides a glimpse into the Secretary’s daily schedule, travels, quotes, photographs, and videos.
Diplomacy and Development go hand-in-hand. This exhibit features a mock-up of a truck delivering aid during a crisis. Images, artifacts and an interactive station convey how foreign assistance not only benefits our partners abroad, but also benefits U.S. national security and the economy at home. Short and long-term aid is explored in the areas of food security, global health, climate change, economic growth, and democracy & governance.
People-to-people exchanges underpin the work of U.S. diplomacy. This large glass case features exchanges in the areas of Sports, Culture, and Education. Videos, images, and artifacts help illustrate the breadth and vitality of these exchanges and how they support the overall diplomatic efforts of the U.S.
USDC’s second phase includes a timeline of diplomatic history in Hall 2. An undulating glass wall displays events and people throughout U.S. diplomatic history. Behind the timeline are 9 galleries which explore a time period or a historical theme more in depth. Hall 2 also includes an Embassy Wall – an interactive wall which takes visitors behind the scenes of an embassy operation. Also featured is Secretaries Row – portraits and artifacts from all past Secretaries of State.
USDC’s second phase also includes Hall 3, which is the education hub of the Center. A wired classroom hosts groups participating in diplomatic simulations or video conference calls with embassies. Smaller exhibits explore current issues of diplomacy as well as provide an introduction into the training and skills required to become a diplomat.