Wende Museum Showcases Material Culture of the Cold War Era

The Painter and His Model, 1956, by István Mácsa.  Oil on canvas.  Hungary.
The Painter and His Model, 1956, by István Mácsa. Oil on canvas. Hungary.
(Wende Museum)
  • AIDS - No, 1991 by Aleksei Rezaev.  Tempera paint on orgalit.  Soviet Union.

    AIDS - No, 1991 by Aleksei Rezaev. Tempera paint on orgalit. Soviet Union.

    Wende Museum

  • In Memory of the Liberation of Our Country, 1980s, Zsolnay porcelain.  Hungary.

    In Memory of the Liberation of Our Country, 1980s, Zsolnay porcelain. Hungary.

    Wende Museum

The Wende Museum in its new location in Culver City, Calif., is a collections-based research and education institute that preserves Cold War artifacts and history, making resources available to scholars and applying historical lessons of the past to the present.

From a vandalized bust of Lenin to an East German (GDR) "Garden Egg Chair," the Wende Museum hosts a fascinating mix of Cold War-era Eastern European and Soviet cultural objects that enable observers to study the 'politics of memory.'

Now showing is "The Russians," a photography exhibition by Nathan Farb, based on a trip he took in 1977 to Novosibirsk as a host of the American exhibition Photography USA, part of a cultural exchange program under President Carter’s administration. 

Through April 29, 2018, the museum has a special exhibtion titled "Cold War Spaces" that examines how political power relations, economic structures, and cultural ideas impact the way we experience, envision, and structure our environment.

The Cold War, with its strict division between ‘East’ and ‘West’ both in physical and ideological terms, is a case in point. To a certain extent, Cold War history can be read as a history of spatial relations. This exhibition explores the spatial characteristics of Cold War era Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union in ten sections: public space; private space; work space; border space; secret space; ideological space; alternative space; outer space; shared space; and changing space.

Also on view is “Vessel of Change,” a video installation by artist and filmmaker Bill Ferehawk and multimedia designer David Hartwell which playfully reinterprets the Malta Summit of December 1989 between Presidents George Bush Sr. and Mikhail Gorbachev, symbolically sealing the end of the Cold War. The summit took place on a ship in wild waters in front of the harbor of Marsaxlokk. In this case, the museum becomes the ship that metaphorically anchors the end of the Cold War in Los Angeles. 

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