A Museum of the Cold War in Culver City, California? The Wende Museum, a modest new jewel in a redone armory/bomb shelter by Paravant Architects with landscaping by Segal Shuart could be considered an odd subject choice for Los Angeles as its focus is strictly on the communist era in Russia and Eastern Europe.
And yet: what a treat. As I’m preparing for a trip to the region it was a welcome wealth of memorabilia, posters, photographs and and texts about this complicated period of public repression combined with private creativity. On the outside, people had to conform to strict dictates. But in their homes and offices, outliers were able to continue their art or design practices.
Some examples of facial recognition instructions for eastern block border guard training are scarily prescient but the decorative arts were still able to flourish out of sight of the watchful eyes. I am particularly looking forward to the upcoming exhibition they are jointly hosting with the Getty Research Institute on Hungary during this period.
It’s useful to go to the Wende in times such as ours to see that no matter how dictatorial and unfriendly governments become, the human spirit rises above. The Arcadia Fund, Benedikt Taschen and executive director Justinian Jampol, lead movers on the project are to be commended.