The Berlin Wall Exhibit

Exploring the history and significance of the Berlin Wall, and the role American diplomacy played in German reunification

The Berlin Wall features the “Signature Segment,” a powerful symbol of the achievements of diplomacy. This 13-foot high, nearly three ton piece of the wall has been signed by 27 leaders who played a significant role in advancing German reunification. They include U.S. President George H. W. Bush, U.S. Secretary of State James Baker, German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev, and Polish labor union leader and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Lech Walesa, among others. Leipzig artist Michael Fischer-Art painted this segment, depicting protesters during that city’s own “Peaceful Revolution” demonstrations in 1988-89. Fischer-Art had created many of the original banners protesters carried as they chanted, “Wir sind das Volk” (“We are the People”), “Freiheit” (“Freedom”), and other pro-democracy messages. The accompanying panels introduce 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.

In November 2019, 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 which will be a part of the permanent museum, currently in progress.

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.

People lined the top of the Wall in 1989 with the Brandenburg Gate in the background as a crowd gathered below

Berlin Wall Interactive Exhibit

In 1989, Berliners flocked to the Wall that divided their city since 1961. They passed through it, scale it, destroy it chunk by chunk and celebrate. Less than a year after the Berlin Wall crumbled, Germany is reunified. The Berlin Wall witnessed global historic moments in the Cold War was well as individual stories of courage.

Explore this history through our interactive timeline,  The Rise and Fall of the Berlin Wall: American Diplomacy in the Cold War, featuring experiences from American diplomats, historical footage, and artifacts from NMAD’s collection.

Visit the Exhibit 

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. Entry is free, but timed passes are required.

diplomacy is our mission exhibit featuring the intro