*UPDATE* Wende Museum

Inconspicuously located in Culver City at the 1949 National Guard Armory building, is the Wende (pronounced “venda”) Museum.

Garden Egg Chair, 1968, Peter Ghyczy

For those not acquainted with the The Wende:

 Examining the history of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union can be fraught with political and personal bias, and the complex, often contradictory stories that underlie the Museum’s artifacts may provoke uncomfortable questions. The Museum’s location in Culver City, California, provides independence and critical distance from current political debates in Europe, and also facilitates the questioning of preconceived ideas about our past and present. Moreover, the Museum’s physical remoteness from Central and Eastern Europe has enabled it to attract significant artifacts and collections that might otherwise have been destroyed as a result of emotional and political reactions. – Wende Museum

Growing up in the United States, we are blindly sheltered from any true political strife: war, brainwashing, and public executions are things we have been fortunate to have avoided.

Immersing yourself in such powerful relics is to observe a life you’ll (hopefully) never experience.

                      Stasi’s stalking tools

As you walk in, you are greeted by a gift shop on the left, and the product of the Monday Demonstrations on Lenin to the right.

This is what protesting looks like

As you enter the general space, the walls are succinctly curated with the current revolving exhibitions. The two latest installations that adorned the space were: “Promote, Tolerate, Ban: Art and Culture in Cold War Hungary”, which is a collaborative initiative with the Getty Research Institute, and “Socialist Flower Power: Soviet Hippie Culture”.

Clothing from “Socialist Flower Power”

 

A piece from “Promote, Tolerate, Ban”

In the two alley ways that run parallel, there are enough books, furniture, clothing, toys, and other household items to keep you intrigued and satiated for hours.

           Google translate can’t keep up.

 

    This probably doesn’t have the ‘Gram on it.

 

                  Definitely not fast fashion

 

              Checkpoint Charlie curiosity fix

 

I wonder if they made one of him in pajamas.

 

The Wende is one of Culver City’s best kept secrets, but with your help, it won’t be for much longer.

 

The Wende Museum 

10808 Culver Blvd., Culver City, CA 90230

Hours of Enjoyment:

Friday:  10 a.m. – 9 p.m.

Saturday and Sunday: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

“Nobody intends to put up a wall!”

Walter Ulbricht, Leader of the GDR, June 15, 1961 – 2 months before the Berlin Wall was erected.

Bring home a piece of oppression.

Bring home a piece of the oppression.

After 26 years of Checkpoint Charlie, the Berlin Wall tumbled down. The haunting combination of barbed wire and cement that segregated Berlin, crumbled by force to reunite the communist-controlled East, with their capitalist West neighbors. East Germany’s way of life that was cultivated under Soviet rule tumbled out as well.

Does IKEA have prints of these?

Does IKEA have prints of these?

Fortunately for us history buffs and curious cats, the Wende Museum has fought to collect, and preserve the remnants of the communist-era. Currently located in Culver City, the collection contains artifacts, personal histories and archival documents that record life, expression and politics during the Cold War period from 1945 to 1991. They have amassed a variety of media including: design objects, periodicals, ceramics, paintings, sculptures, posters, furniture, clothing, films and books. A bragging right of the Wende is that they are one of the few institutions in the world to hold an almost complete run of Neues Deutschland, the official newspaper of the central committee of the Socialist Unity Party (SED), the controlling party of the East German state. Not many can proclaim this: due to the emotionally charged end of the Cold war, a lot of articles were destroyed, or defaced.

I think he looks dashing as a pink head.

I think Lenin looks dashing as a pink head.

The Museum commits its acquisition resources largely to those artifacts, artworks or collections that either make an important addition to core strengths or fill significant gaps, and/or are threatened with imminent destruction or dispersal. This includes historically or culturally significant items likely to be sold to a private collection and removed from public access.  The Wende also attempts to acquire artifacts at the request of scholars in need of specific resources unavailable elsewhere. – The Wende Museum

Despite all my rage, I'm just a Lenin in a cage.

Despite all my rage, I’m still just a Lenin in a cage.

A few of the odds and ends that were recently acquired from the surveillance state were the Stasi espionage cameras and recording equipment, outfitted in various briefcases. For the dames, a purse to discretely snap photos of would-be escapees, radicals, or tunnel diggers. Among the photogenic spy items, there were also various wire tapping devices, just to remind you that you never know who was really listening in.

It's how I keep up with the happenings in my neighborhood.

Talk directly into my briefcase, and tell me about your weekend.

Not all of the Wende is Lenin, and Stasi: they also obtained articles from the East German 6th Sports and Gymnastics Festival, held in Leipzig. From jerseys, helmets, medals, to even the athlete’s sneakers, it is a rather complete assortment.

A locker room, without the unpleasant odor.

A locker room, without the unpleasant odor.

If athletic events don’t interest you, the various records and and play bills might light up your intrigue.

Porgy, is that you?

Porgy, is that you?

At the end of the tour, you’ll find yourself surrounded by relics from the checkpoints at the Wall. One can only imagine the fear and anxiety that permeated German citizens as they crossed.

2015-01-23 02.51.13 1

The Wende Museum is currently in the process of relocating to the Armory, in Culver City, as the tiny confines of the current location do not allow for full displays of all the various collections. Once completely moved in, they plan on accessible hours and days for the public to visit. There is no set opening date, they are still looking for investors and donations to fund the new location. As of late, they only allow guided tours on selected days of the week, since most of the pieces are in a warehouse and storage, wrapped up, in boxes, or in cages.

 

The Wende Museum

5741 Buckingham Parkway, Suite E
Culver City, CA. 90230

Phone: (310) 216-1600

Open to the public on Fridays, from 10am to 5pm, except holidays, guided tours to the public are on Fridays at 11:30 AM and 2 PM

Admission is free.