As the world still grapples with the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic and we look to a more positive 2021, the work to build a museum that tells the story of America’s diplomats continues. Located at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., the National Museum of American Diplomacy (NMAD) will be a testament to the value of diplomacy for our fellow Americans citizens and the power of diplomacy for citizens throughout the world. It also will explore the numerous paths to becoming a diplomat and demonstrate how diplomacy requires a multifaceted skill set that begins with mutual respect. The Museum is funded through in a public-private partnership between the State Department and donations to the Diplomacy Center Foundation.
While some exhibits are already established, we continue to plan and develop the full museum in new and interesting ways. When complete, the final museum will occupy 40,000 square feet. NMAD has developed several artistic renderings that provide a glimpse of what is to come. You can explore more here. For example, the Discover Diplomacy hall introduces visitors to the principles of diplomacy and the people, places, and issues that are crucial to its work everyday. In Diplomacy is Relationships, visitors will explore each nation that maintains official diplomatic ties with the United States and read about its unique and interesting history. Fans and followers of the State Department’s Daily Press Briefing will get a taste of being the Department Spokesperson in the forthcoming Spokesperson’s Podium exhibit, which will allow visitors to step into the shoes of the official spokespeople of the U.S. Department of State. The museum will also feature recent acquisitions from the CBS television drama series Madam Secretary.
There will be plenty to offer to diplomatic history buffs as well. In the History of American Diplomacy hall, visitors will see that diplomacy is, and always has been, dynamic, intensely engaging, and often dangerous work. They will also learn that diplomacy was integral to the founding of our nation. Visitors can get an up close look at the actual Great Seal, America’s official signature, first used in 1782 and still in use today to authenticate treaties. A section on the Cold War will also offer an opportunity to explore diplomatic relations around the world during this volatile period. Visitors can also see an actual segment of the Berlin Wall up close, and there will be many interactive components as well — perfect for school groups and families alike.
While the full museum is still in development, NMAD has created a robust series of education and outreach programs to engage audiences across the United States. The interactive Diplomacy Simulation program showcases the work of the Department and how diplomats engage in global issues. In addition, NMAD now hosts a monthly digital Diplomacy Classroom program that brings NMAD’s educators, historians, and content experts together to share diplomatic history, important documents and artifacts, and the skills diplomats use while working with counterparts. You can explore more here.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the museum is temporarily closed as a public health precaution, but we hope to open as soon as it is safe to do so. In the meantime, please visit the NMAD website to learn more about upcoming events. More information on how you can be a donor and support the museum’s mission can be found here.
About the Author: Jane Carpenter-Rock joined the National Museum of American Diplomacy in July 2018 as Deputy Director for Museum Content and is currently serving as the Acting Director. She was previously Deputy Director in the Office of Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs in the Bureau of African Affairs.