35: The Wende Museum Review

The Wende Museum Brush Pass Review with Gary Dexter

The Wende Museum, back in the GDR! Brush Pass review of this Cold War Museum with Gary Dexter
The Wende Museum, back in the GDR! Brush Pass review of this Cold War Museum with Gary Dexter

Its time to party like its 1989 on this edition of the Spybrary Spy Podcast.

Spybrarian Gary Dexter recently visited the Wende Museum in Los Angeles and has transmitted his brush pass review of the Wende Museum for fellow Spy and Cold War Fans. We have decoded the message so hit play above or download on Itunes/Spotify or on all good podcast apps.

Even though the Wende Museum in Culver City is not a spy museum, Gary reveals why the Wende Museum is a must visit for Spybrarians.

The Times reviewed the East German Handbook, this thing is a brick, but chock full of GDR memorabilia, a must buy for those of you who are fascinated by East Germany.

Why Spybrary Host Shane Whaley is fascinated with the German Democratic Republic

In the early 2000s, Jampol began stockpiling Eastern Bloc art and artifacts: textiles, discarded family scrapbooks, furniture, restaurant menus, mixed tapes, paintings, sculptures. “Orphaned objects,” he calls them. Eventually Jampol amassed a near museum-sized collection, which he incorporated as a nonprofit in 2002.

Spybrary Host Shane Whaley's GDR collection in his den affectionately known as 'East Berlin'
Spybrary Host Shane Whaley's GDR collection in his den affectionately known as ‘East Berlin'

Spybrary Host Shane Whaley is also a collector of GDR memorabilia! I probably have about 300 or so items, my obsession with the GDR started as a teenager. I used to collect stamps. I would send away a crisp one pound note each month and receive back a mixed bag of stamps. For some reason most of the stamps I got were Eastern European and many were from the German Democratic Republic.

I would visit a drafty Swansea reference library on a Saturday morning and look for books with information on the names or places on my DDR stamps.

God knows what the staff thought, whilst most kids are checking out the Hardy Boys I am looking for information on Wilhelm Pieck! When the wall came down in '89 I was 14, I simply could not understand how a country could just disappear like that. I had all these stamps belonging to a country which had evaporated.

Most of my GDR collection is political and propaganda, I need to get over to LA and visit the Wende Museum schnell!

The Mission of the Wende Museum: Preserve, Inspire, Explore

The mission of the Wende Museum is to preserve Cold War art, culture, and history from the Soviet Bloc countries, inspire a broad understanding of the period, and explore its enduring legacy.

Named for the Wende (pronounced “venda”), a German word meaning “turning point” or “change” that has come to describe the transformative period leading up to and following the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the Wende Museum:

  • collects and preserves artwork, artifacts, archives, films, and personal histories from Cold War–era Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union relating to the period 1945–1991;
  • challenges and engages the public through experimental exhibitions and interdisciplinary programming inspired by the collection;
  • illuminates the past and informs the present through creative collaborations with contemporary artists and designers; and
  • promotes rigorous scholarship, educates students, and stimulates general interest through lectures, symposia, and publications.
Spybrarian Gary Dexter

You can follow Spybrarian Gary Dexter on Twitter

Spybrary Brush Pass
Brush Pass – a quick review from Spybrary listeners on the books they love (and hate!)

Brush Pass episodes are recorded reviews sent in by Spybrary listeners that give us their first impressions of a spy book, spy movie or spy tv show soon after finishing it. We encourage all our Spybrary listeners to record their own brush pass reviews and send them in. Remember we are not academics here, Spybrary Spy Podcast is by spy fans for spy fans. (And we don’t always have to agree – vive la difference and all that.)

If you want to send in a brush pass review, record it on your smartphone and email to shane@spybrary.com We will do the rest. If your brush pass episode is aired then you will receive a $20 Amazon voucher as a thank you from us all at Spybrary!

Check out our other Brush Pass reviews here

Enjoyed this episode of Spybrary? Come and talk Spy books and movies with other spy fans in our private Spybrary listeners facebook group

Resources and Links for the Wende Museum

The Wende Museum official website

It's a Cold War at the Wende Museum

The Cold War as a Museum: At the Wende Museum, one man's 100,000 piece collection finds a new home – LA Times

Curiosities from East Germany – Wall St Journal article (behind paywall)

Behind the Iron Curtain: Vintage Designs from Communist East Germany – CNN

Review: The East German Handbook – The Times

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