Telling the Story
Who are our nation’s diplomats and how do they serve Americans every day? 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?
Through interactive exhibits and engaging public programs, the United States Diplomacy Center will answer the questions of:
What is diplomacy?
Who does diplomacy?
Why does diplomacy matter?
How can I become involved?
The Center will have three exhibition halls. Hall 1, Discover Diplomacy, 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 an array of flags from all nations with whom the U.S. maintains official diplomatic relations. The flags emphasize 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 visitors’ lives.
Another prominent feature of Hall 1 is a large world map marked 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 an orientation film to the Department of State and the diplomats who work there. Adjacent to the theater is the exhibit Inside the Secretary’s Day where visitors find a portrait of the current Secretary of State and a video welcome from the Secretary. An interactive station provides a glimpse into the Secretary’s daily schedule, travels, quotes, photographs, and additional videos.
Diplomats are engaged around the globe on many issues essential to the peace and prosperity of all Americans and the world. How diplomats work on these global issues and why they matter to Americans is explored in an exhibit titled Diplomacy is Our Mission. Visitors will see how issues such as human rights, food security, arms control, energy, trade, civilian security, good governance, water, and health are all interconnected and central to U.S. diplomacy.
People-to-people exchanges underpin the work of U.S. diplomacy. This area features educational, sports, and cultural exchanges. Videos, images, and artifacts help illustrate the breadth and vitality of these exchanges and how they support our nation’s overall diplomatic goals.
Hall 2 includes a timeline of diplomatic history. An undulating glass wall displays events and people throughout U.S. diplomatic history. Behind the timeline are nine 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.
Hall 3 is the education hub of the Center. A wired classroom hosts groups participating in diplomacy 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 – answering the question, how can I become involved?