Q: What is the Diplomacy Center?
It is the country’s first museum and education center dedicated to telling the story of American diplomacy. It will focus on diplomacy’s role in promoting our national security, prosperity, and global leadership. Visitors can explore what diplomacy is, who does it, and how it has impacted American lives throughout history.
The Center is non-partisan. It is made possible through public-private partnerships, including one with the Diplomacy Center Foundation.
Q: How will you tell the story of American diplomacy?
We will tell the story through education and public programs, multimedia exhibits, a unique collection of artifacts, and a timeline of significant diplomatic events from the founding of the nation to the early 21st century.
Q: Tell us more about the highlights of your collection.
We have nearly 7,500 unique objects related to diplomatic history, tools of the trade, and gifts to Secretaries of State.
Our oldest artifact is a 1778 Dunlap printing of the Treaties of Amity and Commerce and of Alliance with France commissioned by the Continental Congress.
Our largest artifact is the nearly three-ton, 13-foot high “Signature Segment” of the Berlin Wall which features 27 signatures of leaders who played a major role in reunifying Germany and ending the Cold War.
Our smallest object is a tiny silver owl, symbolizing wisdom, a gift to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice from the Foreign Minister of Greece.
Our most prominent working artifact is the Great Seal of the United States. The Great Seal is impressed on official documents such as treaties and commissions. The public will be able to view it in use.
The Center is also home to former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright’s famous pin collection. She was known for using her pins to convey diplomatic messages.
Q: Tell us more about your education programs.
The focal point of our educational engagement is the diplomacy simulation program. These hands-on exercises allow high school and college students, as well as educators, to step into the shoes of diplomats as they grapple with complex foreign affairs topics such as nuclear proliferation, international migration, and pandemics.
Students represent various stakeholders with competing and overlapping interests. They must negotiate to resolve the crisis. The simulations emphasize 21st century skills that are also the tools of diplomacy: creativity, innovation, critical thinking, problem solving, communication, and collaboration.
To date, we have reached approximately 18,000 American students and 12,000 international students and trained approximately 10,000 American educators to conduct the simulations. Our staff travels across the United States to conduct simulation trainings. We recently made our simulation library available online along with teacher’s guides, video tutorials, and interviews with subject matter experts. Educators are welcome to use these free resources. We currently offer eight simulations and plan to add more.
Q: How did the idea of the Center originate?
The late Ambassador Stephen Low and the late Senator Charles Mathias of Maryland thought there should be a museum dedicated to diplomacy. Former Secretary of State Albright supported the idea and dedicated space for the Center in 2000. Six Secretaries of State participated in the Center’s 2014 groundbreaking ceremony.
Q: Who designed the Center?
Architect Hany Hassan of Beyer Blinder Belle designed the Center’s award- winning 20,000 square-foot pavilion. The contemporary glass and steel pavilion provides a transparent and welcoming introduction to diplomacy. The Center is built to LEED silver specifications.
When completed, the Center will also incorporate the Department’s historic 1941 mural entitled “Defense of America’s Freedoms.” That mural, commissioned when the building housed the War Department, is located in the lobby of the Department on 21st Street, NW.
Q: Who is your primary audience?
Our primary audience is U.S. high school and college students and educators. We will also engage the foreign affairs community, international and domestic tourists, and residents of the DC metropolitan area.
Q: Are you open to the public?
We will open in phases. Currently, we host rotating guest exhibits that are accessible during normal business hours. We also hold thematic panel discussions by invitation, as well as a robust education program featuring a range of diplomacy simulations that offer students and educators an opportunity to explore the world of diplomacy.
In 2019, we plan to open officially with the installation of an exhibit to introduce visitors to select stories of American diplomacy and the Diplomacy Center project.
Our fundraising efforts are ongoing to expand and complete the Center. When finished, the Center will also feature a U.S. diplomatic history hall, a global classroom, a film theater, cafe, and gift shop.
Q: Are you free to public?
The Center will be free to the public.
Q: Where are you located?
The Center is adjacent to the Department of State on 21st Street, NW.
Q: Do taxpayers fund the Diplomacy Center?
The Diplomacy Center is supported through public-private partnerships. Private grants and donations from corporations, foundations and individuals cover the cost of construction and exhibits. The Department provides the space, security, and staffing for the Center. Fundraising efforts are ongoing to expand and complete the Center and to support its future exhibits and programs.
The Center plans to be largely self-sustaining through grants, conference fees, space rental, and other revenue streams.
Q: What are your costs to date?
The first phase of the project cost approximately $29 million. The current estimate for project completion is an additional $44 million.