The Cold-war Armory

It seems like the perfect location: The Wende Museum’s collection of Cold War artifacts recently moved into an actual cold-war armory in Culver City, California.

Justin Jampol, founder of the museum, explored the space following a Parks and Recreation meeting at the Culver City Senior Center: “That probably tells you something about my social life at that time. The meeting was about what to do with this block of city-owned property, that was in limbo because it had been abandoned and overlooked in some ways.”

After the meeting, Dan O’Brien and Judy Richter, two community activists, led Jampol across the street and showed him the building. “It’s one of those places where, unless you really looked, you wouldn’t even notice it, because of decades of painting and grime. As soon as we peeled back the layers of the place and saw it in its raw form, it looked amazing.”

Cold War Spaces

For more than a decade, the collection had been tucked away in a business center, where only a small percentage of its collections could be displayed. Over the years the private collection grew to more than 100,000 items of art, clothing, propaganda material, technology and other remnants of life in Eastern Europe and Russia during the Cold War.

All of the artifacts are now on display: The new building offers a one-acre campus featuring 13,000 square-feet of storage and exhibition space and a sculpture garden.

The opening of the Wende Museum opened with the exhibition “Cold War Spaces”. Jampol explains: “The whole idea behind this was, as opposed to the Cold War, which was opaque and about secrets, this is all about transparency and accessibility. For example, we have a main exhibit space, but on the other side. It’s flanked with long hallways where the full collection is exposed and can be seen through the glass.”