Past Exhibits

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 The image recognition technology instantly unlocks exclusive interviews with diplomats, additional contextual historical content, and related artifacts in NMAD’s collection.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
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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.

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.

An older couple looks at artifacts in a case
Diplomacy Center Foundation Founding Ambassadors Concourse Dedication
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On May 8, 2019, the Diplomacy Center Foundation, the private sector fundraising partner for the National Museum of American Diplomacy museum, hosted a celebratory luncheon to dedicate the Founding Ambassadors Concourse. The luncheon was held at the 21,000 square foot glass entrance pavilion of the Diplomacy Center at the United States (U.S.) Department of State.

This special dedication honored the Founding Ambassadors, all individual donors who have received presidential appointments and donated $100,000 or more to the creation of the museum, which is set to open in 2022. To date, 66 Founding Ambassadors have raised a combined total of over $10 million. They include two former U.S. Secretaries of State, one former U.S. Secretary of Defense, and 63 former U.S. ambassadors. The campaign is chaired by Ambassador Stuart Bernstein (ret.), who also serves on the Diplomacy Center Foundation Board of Directors.

The Diplomacy Center Foundation welcomed more than 100 guests that included Founding Ambassadors, additional donors, and members of the diplomatic community. Ambassador William C. Harrop (ret.), Founding Ambassador and Chair of the Diplomacy Center Foundation Board of Directors, offered the opening remarks. He recognized Ambassador Elizabeth Frawley Bagley (ret.) for her efforts in raising the first $50 million for the National Museum of American Diplomacy.

Ambassador Harrop also spoke on the importance of German-American relations in light of the upcoming anniversary of the end of the Berlin Airlift. The luncheon featured several objects from the Diplomacy Center’s collection, including an “Operation Vittles Cookbook.” The Operation Vittles Cookbook was compiled by American women during the 1949 Berlin Blockade in an effort to create recipes using the limited resources available to them. The Diplomacy Center Foundation was grateful to have Boris Ruge, Deputy Chief of Mission of the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany, in attendance.

The Diplomacy Center Foundation was also honored to welcome Ambassador Thomas R. Pickering (ret.), who is a Founding Ambassador and Vice Chair of the Diplomacy Center Foundation Board of Directors. Ambassador Pickering’s remarks touched on the crucial role American diplomacy plays in advancing prosperity in the U.S. and around the world. He also thanked the guests for their support “in this particular endeavor of telling Americans what diplomacy does for them and what they can do for diplomacy.”

Speakers also included Diplomacy Center Director Mary Kane. Mrs. Kane spoke about the outstanding education programs currently available at the National Museum of American Diplomacy and updated guests about the Diplomacy Center’s current museum exhibit planning.

Ambassador Stuart Bernstein (ret.) concluded the luncheon by emphasizing the importance of diplomacy in maintaining a peaceful international order and the need to communicate this message through the creation of a museum dedicated to American diplomacy. He stated, “There are hundreds of museums in [… the U.S.] that are dedicated to military and war – over 400 – and not a single one to diplomacy! […Therefore,] when Ambassador Elizabeth Frawley Bagley asked me to support the building of this museum I did not hesitate.” In his closing remarks, Ambassador Bernstein officially dedicated the space to the Founding Ambassadors.

The Diplomacy Center Foundation would like to thank all our guests for attending this special event. We also extend our deepest thanks and gratitude to our Founding Ambassadors for their generous contributions and support for creating the first museum dedicated to telling the story of American diplomacy.

in a case, items from the NATO treaty and accession instruments
Commemorating 70 years of the North Atlantic Treaty
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In 1949, the United States, Canada, and several Western European nations created the North Atlantic Treaty, to provide collective security against the Soviet Union.  April 3, 2019 marked 70 years of a strategic military alliance among the signatories of the North Atlantic Treaty. Secretary Mike Pompeo, with the 30 Foreign Ministers of the signatory countries, held an event with the original Treaty Charter, in the same space it was signed, in what used to be the Departmental Auditorium and is now the Mellon Auditorium in Washington, D.C.  This event marked the first time that Northern Macedonia participated, with its accession documents formally submitted to the United States Senate. During the reception, Secretary Pompeo noted the accomplishments of NATO and spoke about President Harry Truman’s aspirations for the alliance. Though there was doubt at the time that NATO would be a force of peace, Pompeo stated that “the 12 founding nations knew better and over the years, their historic hopes have been vindicated.  The ‘fuller and happier life for our citizens’ that Truman sought has been realized.”

Throughout the day on April 4, the National Museum of American Diplomacy displayed the accession instruments of the countries celebrating significant milestones since joining NATO. As the depository of NATO, Article 10 of the North Atlantic Treaty provides that “Any State so invited may become a Party to the Treaty by depositing its instrument of accession with the Government of the United States of America.”  This is the first time that these instruments have ever been displayed for viewing, and several Foreign Ministers were delighted to have the opportunity to see these historic documents.. The National Museum of American Diplomacy, as the State Department’s pending museum on diplomacy and with curatorial expertise, properly laid out and displayed the accession instruments in an archival manner.  National Museum of American Diplomacy staff also proudly served as informational docents for the original Treaty at the April 3 event, answering questions about the history of the Charter and NATO.

Woman speaks with microphone in front of exhibit
100 Years of American Diplomacy
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The Diplomacy Center and the American Foreign Service Association celebrated 100 years of the Foreign Service Journal with the exhibit “Defining Diplomacy for 100 years: The Foreign Service Journal” on view in the Diplomacy Center Pavilion until May 10, 2019. The exhibit offered a unique look into diplomatic history through the eyes of the practitioners who contributed to the pages of the Journal. The exhibit weaves together a timeline and themes from the past 100 years into a collection of stories and excerpts about the Foreign Service and our nation’s foreign policy. Many of the past covers of the Journal are also featured. The exhibit also announced the completion of the Journal’s digital archive, providing access to every issue going back to 1919. In 2017, the American Foreign Service Association also released the entire online archive of the Foreign Service Journal.

Seal in the Diplomacy Center Pavilion
A Century of Service – US Diplomatic Courier Services turns 100
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The National Museum of American Diplomacy is honored to celebrate the centennial anniversary of the Diplomatic Courier Service with a new exhibit, “100 Years of Diplomatic Couriers—None Swifter than These,” on display from Oct 31, 2018 through February 3, 2019.

In 1918, General John J. “Black Jack” Pershing authorized U.S. Army Major Amos J. Peaslee to organize a wartime courier service to expedite mail between the U.S. embassy in Paris and Washington. General Peaslee’s “Silver Greyhounds,” denoted by the greyhound patch on their uniforms, were formally assigned that same year to the U.S. Department of State. The Silver greyhounds became the first U.S. organization dedicated to transport of diplomatic pouches and thus the Diplomatic Courier Service (DCS) was born.

Today, diplomatic couriers spend tens of thousands of hours annually delivering tens of millions of pounds of classified material by air, sea, and land to more than 275 U.S. diplomatic missions around the world. The famous orange pouches have been featured in Hollywood movies and can range from confidential documents to hi-tech devices or even construction equipment.

The exhibits features items used throughout the history of the DCS and how that mission has evolved over the years to keep ahead of evolving threats of espionage, terror, and even bad weather.  Also on display are bugging devices, such as the one found in the Great Seal of the United States at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow which resulted in a shift in the diplomatic courier mission—from carrying confidential messages, to also transporting construction and other materials for secure areas in U.S. embassies. 

Items on display were provided by the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, working in collaboration with the US Diplomacy Center. The exhibit represents the State Department’s commitment to highlight the efforts and mission of the Diplomatic Courier Service, whose essential work supports and ensures the safety and integrity of employees and resources in US missions all over the World.

For more information on the the Courier Service and the Bureau of Diplomatic Security:

https://www.state.gov/m/ds/index.htm

American and German flags with text WunderBar together over it
Wunderbar Together: A Year-Long Celebration of German-American Friendship
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In October, Germany kicked off Wunderbar Together, a major, year-long initiative to celebrate the Year of German-American Friendship (“Deutschlandjahr USA”).

An initiative of the German Federal Foreign Office, implemented by the Goethe-Institut, and with support from the Federation of German Industries (BDI), Wunderbar Together showcased the transatlantic partnership, highlighting areas of German-American cooperation in business, industry, politics, education, culture, science, civil society, and sports and lifestyle. This initiative culminates in fall 2019 with the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

To mark this kick-off, the Diplomacy Center, the Diplomacy Center Foundation, and the German Embassy are hosted a panel discussion on U.S.-German relations, followed by a reception. The panel includes Dr. Steven S. Sokol, President of the American Council on Germany, German Ambassador Emily Haber, and former U.S. ambassador to Germany Robert M Kimmitt.

The National Museum of American Diplomacy featured its segment of the Berlin Wall that bears the signatures of world leaders who worked to end the Cold War.

Diplomacy Center exhibit cases of Nuclear Arms including flags, artifacts, and information
Spotlight On: Nuclear Risk Reduction
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In October 2018, the National Museum of American Diplomacy hosted a spotlight on the Nuclear Risk Reduction Center. These included several of our artifacts, including:

  • Cruise missile wing tip mounted to plaque Gift from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Delegation (INF Delegation)

This wing tip was once part of a ground launched cruise missile which was eliminated at Davis Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, in 1989. The elimination was carried out under the terms of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty of 1987. This commemorative piece was owned and displayed by Ambassador Maynard W. Glitman, chief negotiator of the INF treaty.

  • Pershing II missile instrumentation backplate mounted to plaque Gift from the INF Delegation

This instrumentation backplate was once part of a Pershing II – a mobile, intermediate-range ballistic missile – which was eliminated at the Longhorn Army Ammunition Plant, Texas, in 1989. All Pershing IIs and their support equipment were eliminated per the terms of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty of 1987. This commemorative piece was owned and displayed by Ambassador Maynard W. Glitman, chief negotiator of the INF treaty.

  • SCUD Missile nose cone Gift of Ambassador Kurt D. Volker

The Soviet Union deployed SCUD missiles and launchers to Soviet-bloc countries as part of the military build-up in Eastern Europe during the Cold War. The warheads were kept in the Soviet Union and could be paired quickly with the missiles and launchers in the event of conflict. This nose cone was mounted to the very top of a SCUD missile and did not contain a weapon. Its purpose was to increase the aerodynamics of the missile aimed at its target.

In 1991, the Soviet Union withdrew their troops from Hungary, but left the SCUD missiles behind. The United States assisted with the destruction of this equipment. Kurt Volker, Political-Military Officer at U.S. Embassy Budapest 1994-1997, was the liaison for this program. He was given this nose cone as a memento.

Photo exhibit in the Diplomacy Center pavilion
Afghanistan’s Heritage: Restoring Spirit and Stone
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The National Museum of American Diplomacy is pleased to host the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs’ photo exhibition Afghanistan’s Heritage: Restoring Spirit and Stone from October 9th through October 29th.  The 37 images are from the U.S. Embassy Kabul commissioned photobook of the same name, showcasing historic sites, monuments, and cultural institutions that have benefited from the Embassy’s support.  The photobook also includes essays from young Afghan thought-leaders and pioneers.  Award-winning photojournalist Robert Nickelsberg, with over thirty years of experience documenting Afghanistan, was enlisted for the project.

Afghanistan’s heritage is unmatched in its richness and diversity, and the shared patrimony serves as a unifying foundation for all Afghans.  By protecting and preserving Afghanistan’s monuments, archaeological treasures, and cultural traditions such as poetry and music, the United States is helping to build a more resilient Afghanistan by giving all Afghans a deeper sense of what binds them together, strengthening economic opportunities, and educating a new generation to help foster co-existence and tolerance.

Please find out more about U.S. Embassy Kabul at Discover Diplomacy! Or check out our previous exhibit.