Past Exhibits & Programs

The National Museum of American Diplomacy offers first-hand stories of American diplomacy. Hear from diplomats, foreign policy experts, historians and other people from the ground in our Pavilion’s lower level. Past events included diplomats living in rural South Vietnam during the Vietnam War, a panel tracing the history of HIV/AIDs and the State Department’s response, and the story of the first African American Diplomats.

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kids use MADI on their ipads
NMAD debuts MADI, state-of-the-art in-museum mobile technology
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Coinciding with the launch of the Berlin Wall exhibit, the National Museum of American Diplomacy (NMAD) launched the Museum of American Diplomacy Eye, or MADI, an award winning in-gallery museum guide that uses image recognition on personal smartphones to scan artifacts as visitors explore galleries. The image recognition technology instantly unlocks exclusive interviews with diplomats, additional contextual historical content, and related artifacts in NMAD’s collection.

The inaugural launch of MADI offers nine additional experiences accompanying The Berlin Wall exhibit, including a biographical video featuring the signatories of the wall as well as historical footage to put the visitor in the shoes of those living at the time of the Cold War. In 2020, content for MADI will be expanded for the Diplomacy Is Our Mission exhibit to feature surprising facts about the diplomats from American history, as well as interviews with current U.S. diplomats who engage in diplomacy all over the world today. NMAD will also use MADI to test visitor experience, experiment with content, and examine analytics for wider use in the permanent museum. 

The NMAD collaborated with the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, in conjunction with Linked by Air, to adapt their critically acclaimed technology for our exhibits. They are expanding this technology to other Smithsonians including National Museum of African American History and Culture, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian American Art Museum, National Air and Space Museum, and National Museum of American Art. MADI will be the inaugural launch in this series.

Berlin Wall exhibit
The National Museum of American Diplomacy debuts a new exhibit, The Berlin Wall , and launches online interactive timeline
The National Museum of American Diplomacy debuts a new exhibit, The Berlin Wall , and launches online interactive timeline 1024 683

In November, in honor of the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, the National Museum of American Diplomacy (NMAD) opened The Berlin Wall, an exhibit exploring its history and significance, and the role American diplomacy played in German reunification. This exhibit will be a part of the permanent museum, currently in progress

The exhibit includes the “Signature Segment” of the Berlin Wall and introduces American diplomacy in a divided Germany through diving into the symbolism of the wall, the challenge of communism and the timeline of pivotal events that shaped that period. 

NMAD worked with Smithsonian Exhibits to design, fabricate, and install this exhibit. Smithsonian Exhibits was also the partner for Diplomacy Is Our Mission, the museum’s preview exhibit which explores how our nation’s diplomats protect the American people and advance security, prosperity, democracy, and development to benefit our country.

For the anniversary NMAD also launched an interactive timeline, The Rise and Fall of the Berlin Wall: American Diplomacy in the Cold War. The interactive timeline tells the history of the Berlin Wall told through the voices of American diplomats, featuring artifacts from the NMAD collection. Timed passes are available Fridays with reservation.

The Museum of American Diplomacy Eye, dubbed MADI, debuted with this opening of this exhibit. MADI is an in-gallery museum guide that uses image recognition on personal smartphones to scan artifacts as visitors explore galleries. Accompanying The Berlin Wall exhibit, visitors have access to exclusive historical footage which provides context to the important diplomatic figures and puts visitors in the shoes of East and West Berliners at the time of the wall.

Group photo with Director and Cal Ripken in the Lower Level
Sports Diplomacy Comes to Life with U.S. Sports Envoy Cal Ripken, Jr.
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On September 18, 2019 the National Museum of American Diplomacy (NMAD) partnered with the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) to host a conversation with Baseball Hall of Famer Cal Ripken, Jr. and Foreign Service Officer Joel Ehrendriech on the power of baseball to promote mutual understanding.

NMAD Director Mary Kane and ECA Assistant Secretary Marie Royce opened the event by welcoming Ripken and describing ECA’s use of sports diplomacy to build bridges between Americans and people around the world at the grassroots level. Kane then moderated a special dialogue with Ripken and Ehrendriech highlighting powerful impact of sports diplomacy at home and abroad.

Cal Ripken's jersey and bat, signed

Mr. Ripken’s signed jersey and bat illustrate the goodwill that is generated through sports diplomacy.This goodwill can pave the way for efforts in finding common ground in other areas of nationalinterest. Gift of Cal Ripkin, Jr., to the National Museum of American Diplomacy

Ripken shared his experiences as a Sports Diplomacy Envoy in China, Nicaragua, Japan, and the Czech Republic. He told the over 150 guests how baseball serves as an “icebreaker” for him to “connect directly with kids.” Not only does he lead baseball drills and clinics, Ripken shows young people how the skills and teamwork needed on the field apply to school and life off of the field. Ripken underscored that “sports take down walls and barriers” to open up communication and connectivity regardless of one’s different walks of life.

Ehrendriech provided an on-the-ground perspective on how he has used baseball during his overseas assignments to connect with the country’s citizens and government officials. Notably, while stationed in Tokyo, Japan, Ehrendreich organized a baseball game between the American embassy and the Japanese parliament, played at the Tokyo Dome in March 2006. The U.S. team was managed by former Texas Rangers owner and U.S. Ambassador to Japan Tom Schieffer. The Japanese team was managed by Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe, later to become Japan’s prime minister. The game ended with a diplomatic 15-15 tie. 

Ehrendriech donated a number of sports diplomacy artifacts to the museum which were on display at the event along with Ripken’s artifacts.

Secretary Pompeo Commemorates anniversary of September 11, 2001
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Pompeo lays a wreath down by the flagIt’s been 18 years since the September 11 attacks left nearly 3,000 people dead in the worst act of terrorism the nation has ever experienced. Marking the 18th anniversary, Secretary of State Michael Pompeo visited the National Museum of American Diplomacy’s (NMAD) September 11 exhibit to remember those we lost on that tragic day, but to also highlight America’s resolve and the global outpouring of support for the United States following the attacks. After laying a wreath to honor the victims, Secretary Pompeo spoke about the Department of State’s unique role in working with our partners noting “September 11th also showed how many friends the U.S. has around the world.” 

The National Museum of American Diplomacy’s exhibit showcases America’s resolve including a brick retrieved from Osama Bin Laden’s compound, on loan from the CIA Museum. Secretary Pompeo, who is also the former Director of the CIA, remarked, “May we honor the victims through the defense of our homeland.”   After the attacks, U.S. embassies and consulates received condolence material such as personal mementos, letters, and drawings. Many of these items were shipped to the Department of State in Washington, and now are included in the collections of the NMAD. This condolence material represents an unwavering support for Americans in their time of need and a global repudiation of terrorism.

Specific examples from the collection include:

  • Students at Norwood School, Johannesburg, South Africa, sent a spiral bound booklet of colorful drawings and encouraging notes to the U.S. consulate.
  • Firefighters from the New South Wales Rural Fire Service offered a helmet with heartfelt inscriptions to the U.S. consulate in Sydney, Australia.
  • Schoolchildren in Japan created extensive chains of origami swans as symbols of peace.

House Resolution 786 (For the duration of the ceremony), signed in the wake of the Sept 11, 2012 attack on the US compound in Benghazi, Libya to honor the fallen and condemn the attackers.

Signed Copy of House Resolution 786

To honor the fallen and condemn the attackers, the U.S. House of Representatives passed House Resolution 786.

Brick on a stand

Brick retrieved from Osama Bin Laden’s compound, on loan from the CIA Museum.

Teachers and staff sit in front of diplomacy center banner
Lasting Impact in Diplomacy Education with Teacher Institute
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July 15-19, 2019, the National Museum of American Diplomacy (NMAD) partnered with the State Department’s Diplomatic Reception Rooms to conduct its first annual Teacher Institute for 25 middle and high school teachers. From the almost 100 teachers who applied, 25 public school teachers from Arkansas, Montgomery County, M.D., Fairfax County, V.A. and the District of Columbia were selected to participate in the week-long program. 

In partnership with the State Department’s Diplomatic Reception Rooms, the program provided teachers of 6th-12th grade students with unprecedented access to the Department of State as well as content-rich training in the history and practice of diplomacy and how to incorporate diplomatic skills into the classroom. The teachers had the rare, behind-the-scenes opportunity to meet diplomats from across bureaus, engage in issue briefings, visit the European Union Delegation, tour the Great Seal and work with the artifact collections of both the NMAD and the Diplomatic Reception Rooms.

Now that the teachers have tremendous insight into the work of the Department of State, they will build lesson plans and activities based on the artifact collections and skills of diplomacy, which the NMAD and the Diplomatic Reception Rooms will incorporate into their online offerings.

Watch some highlights from July below, or sign up to our newsletter to learn more about our offerings.

 

 

Mike Collins listens to two other people speak on a stage
Space Diplomacy: Apollo 11 astronauts Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin visit the National Museum of American Diplomacy
Space Diplomacy: Apollo 11 astronauts Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin visit the National Museum of American Diplomacy 1024 683

On July 18, 2019, the National Museum of American Diplomacy co-hosted a panel on “Space Diplomacy” with Apollo 11 astronauts Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin. The event focused on the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing and subsequent diplomatic efforts by the American astronauts

The event featured Major General Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin, two members of the three-man Apollo 11 mission crew, as well as other senior leaders in the fields of space exploration, research, and diplomacy. It highlighted how the Apollo 11 mission was one of the defining moments of not only the 1960s, but of the 20th century, and how it strengthened American diplomacy. 

Panelists included U.S. State Department Science Envoy for Space and former NASA Administrator and Astronaut Maj. Gen. Charles Bolden, Jr., Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum Director and former NASA Chief Scientist Dr. Ellen Stofan, George Washington University Professor and Space Policy Institute Director Dr. John Logsdon, and Air and Space Museum Curator Dr. Teasel Muir-Harmony.

Attendees at the event learned that in 1969, after the successful conclusion of the Apollo 11 mission, the three members of the crew, Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong, and Michael Collins, went on a 37-day, 24-country goodwill tour of the world called “Giant Step,” promoting the Apollo program and American cultural interests abroad. 

Neil Armstrong also visited the Soviet Union in May 1970 to tour the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut training-center and meet Premier Alexei Kosygin. President Nixon used the diplomatic boost from these goodwill tours to lay the groundwork for U.S. rapprochement with China. This “space diplomacy” would take the astronauts, President Nixon, and ultimately the United States beyond the divide of the Iron Curtain and help further the momentum of détente between the western and eastern blocs.

During her remarks at the event, Assistant Secretary of State for Global Public Affairs Michelle Giuda introduced astronaut Michael Collins and told the audience that after his mission to the moon, President Nixon appointed Collins Assistant Secretary of Public Affairs at the State Department, making her his successor in the role. She expressed appreciation for continuing his legacy and thanked him for his service to the State Department and to our nation.

As much a foreign relations achievement as a technological marvel, Apollo 11 was a soft-power victory for the United States. The White House, the State Department, NASA and the U.S. Information Agency all worked closely together to project an image of Apollo 11 as an American-led, global effort that united the world. Voice of America broadcast live coverage of the lunar landing in 36 languages for an audience of roughly 750 million and another 650 million watched the lunar landing on television, the first live global broadcast in history. The mission was a success and space diplomacy continues to build bridges and strengthen our international partnerships.

The National Museum of American Diplomacy, in partnership with the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, George Washington University’s Space Policy Institute, and the Embassy of Australia, hosted a space diplomacy program in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.

American flag 230th anniversary exhibit wall
From 1789 to today: 230 years of State Department history
From 1789 to today: 230 years of State Department history 1024 683

In celebration of the 230th anniversary of the State Department, the Diplomacy Center unveiled an exhibit showcasing the history of the Department, from its beginnings as the first cabinet agency, established on July 27, 1789, to now. This milestone presents a unique opportunity to highlight the Department’s storied history and heritage and the important role of U.S. diplomacy – past, present, and future. 

The exhibit highlights significant milestones in State Department history and the Secretaries of State who have headed our nation’s first cabinet agency. From its humble beginnings at 13 South Sixth Street in Philadelphia in 1789 to its posts worldwide today, the State Department has led our nation’s foreign policy for 230 years and continues its mission of promoting the interests and values of the American people around the world.  

This exhibit was part of a daylong celebration hosted by Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo. Under the theme of “One Team, One Mission, One Future,” the commemoration featured a live discussion between Dr. Henry Kissinger and his official biographer, Dr. Niall Ferguson; a film featuring comments by Secretary George P. Shultz and Secretary Madeleine Albright; a panel discussion with historians; and more.

Secretary Pompeo spoke about the Department’s unique role in advancing American interests, saying “There is no other federal agency – none, and I served in the Department of Defense and I was a member of Congress.  There is no other federal agency that can do this around the world like the United States Department of State. None. Ours is a very special mission, and today’s anniversary is an opportunity to rededicate ourselves to it.” The Department also unveiled a video featuring the new Professional Ethos statement, showcasing many of the Department’s staff and their work, around the world. 

Associate Curator and Lavender Scare speaker sit on stage
The National Museum of American Diplomacy and glifaa Honor Pride Month with “The Lavender Scare” Screening
The National Museum of American Diplomacy and glifaa Honor Pride Month with “The Lavender Scare” Screening 1024 683

In honor of Pride Month in June, the National Museum of American Diplomacy (NMAD) partnered with glifaa (LGBT+ pride in foreign affairs agencies) to host a screening of the recently released documentary “The Lavender Scare” followed by a panel discussion and reception.

The film highlights the mass firings of gay and lesbian federal workers who were considered to be security risks because of their sexual orientation. Starting in the 1950s and continuing through the early 1990s, the risks were particularly acute at the Department of State, which gives the screening of this film added significance. 

NMAD Public Affairs Officer Reva Gupta provided opening remarks, sharing the importance of such public programming in telling the diverse story and challenges of diplomats. glifaa President Liz Lee noted in her remarks that it was significant, considering this not-too-distant history, that this documentary was screened at the Department of State. 

In a panel following the film, NMAD Associate Curator Katie Speckart, Liz Lee, and glifaa co-founder Jan Krc spoke about the creation of glifaa and how the era of the Lavender Scare will be presented in the museum. Mr. Krc also spoke about his personal saga of being fired from the Foreign Service in 1984 due to his homosexuality and his nearly ten-year legal battle to win back his job. He rejoined the Foreign Service in 1993 and retired in 2018.

Director Mary Kane addresses a seated crowd
National Museum of American Diplomacy Launches “Diplomacy After Hours” Happy Hour
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The National Museum of American Diplomacy (NMAD) has launched “Diplomacy After Hours,” a series of diplomacy-themed happy hours in the pavilion that will feature exciting stories of American diplomacy and highlight the future museum. 

The first program featured Jimmy Story, Chargé d’ Affaires, a.i. at U.S. Embassy in Caracas, Venezuela, who has been a generous donor of artifacts to the NMAD, including a cococho (a tool used to uproot coca plants) and items he collected prior to closing a cocaine lab in Colombia: a coca plant macerator (used to mash coca leaves in the process for making cocaine), a weighing scale, and devices used to make bricks of cocaine and mark the bricks. Mr. Story shared one of his most emotional moments in the service — watching the U.S. flag come down at the Embassy in Venezuela. He relayed the pride he felt when his plane landed in Washington, D.C. from Venezuela and State Department leadership welcomed him and the embassy team. 

The second “Diplomacy After Hours” was a celebration of the nation’s independence as well as the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing and diplomacy’s role in space exploration. In keeping with the celebratory theme, the United States Air Force Band’s Airmen of Note jazz ensemble performed patriotic and space exploration-themed music. Members of the band also have served as arts envoys. Guests had the opportunity to listen to the band’s experiences working on community relations events in Costa Rica and other countries.

The NMAD thanks Washington, D.C.-based City Winery for their generous donation of wine and staff time for this event.

U.S. Secretary of State gives remarks at the National Museum of American Diplomacy guest exhibit on Consular Affairs.
“From Pirates to Passports: A Timeless Commitment to Service” Exhibition Opens at the National Museum of American Diplomacy
“From Pirates to Passports: A Timeless Commitment to Service” Exhibition Opens at the National Museum of American Diplomacy 1024 682

From May 2019 – July 2019, the National Museum of American Diplomacy (NMAD) is hosting the Bureau of Consular Affairs exhibit, “From Pirates to Passports: A Timeless Commitment to Service.” On May 28th, Secretary Mike Pompeo spoke in the NMAD pavilion at the opening of an exhibit by the Bureau of Consular Affairs. He highlighted that the exhibit “tells the story of our timeless commitment to serving the American people. Consular Affairs’ mission spans across the globe and across the centuries dating from before the signing of the U.S. Constitution down to today.”

This exhibit celebrates the 40-year anniversary of the founding of the Bureau of Consular Affairs and the long history of consular service to the American people.  The exhibition, includes photos, stories, and historical artifacts showcasing the evolution of consular affairs from its inception to its global presence today. Later this year, a digital version of the exhibit with expanded interactive content will be available to the public.

On display are the stories of consuls from the earliest days of the republic to the present, and of the citizens they helped, including in crisis.  U.S. passports trace the transformation of the iconic document from a written memo requesting safe passage to the state-of-the-art, secure passport book produced today.  Similarly, the exhibit follows the evolution of visa regulations over centuries to adapt to an increasingly complex and interconnected world. Specific artifacts within the exhibit include passports of famous persons; a logbook from U.S. Consulate General Marseille documenting the consulate’s passport services to hundreds of U.S. citizens, including Gertrude Stein and Varian Fry, fleeing Nazi-controlled Europe during World War II; and historic “tools of the trade” used to produce visas, including a visa machine, visa plates, and wax seals.