Into the Vault – Touring the Wende Museum

The last time I’d been in a “vault” I was working a temp job for a large financial institution and the “vault” was a large warehouse filled with thousands of mortgages that I had to file for four hours every weeknight. Good times! Luckily, this time I entered into a vault of a different nature.

On Friday, I took the free vault tour of the Wende Museum.The museum is dedicated to the preservation of Cold War items and history and is located in the former Eastern Bloc State of…Culver City??? Ok, so for some reason the museum dedicated to Cold War history is actually located in the Los Angeles area. Don’t know why, but I’m glad it is as it’s a really interesting place.

So, at 3pm on a Friday I showed up at the location in a nondescript business park. How nondescript? Well, the museum shares a space with a catering company. I was a bit wary at first, but when I went inside I was happy to discover a full fledged (albeit small) museum!

I then joined a small group and was led by an intern into the “vault.” Basically, the vault ended up being the storage area of the museum. Which was actually very cool. Think about it. Is the Met is gonna let you in the back without credentials? How bout the Smithsonian or the Getty? I don’t think so.

Our guide showed us around the area and you would not believe how much was back there! Sculptures, books, uniforms, toys, documents, flags, etc, etc, etc. It was crazy! It was also a super interesting glimpse into the recent past of a large portion of the world. We were told that one of the ways the museum acquires artifacts is through EBay. Essentially, what we consider historical evidence many people (understandably) consider junk they simply don’t want around anymore.

Thanks to that, we now have a museum that offers a fascinating glimpse into history. Or as our guide so eloquently said, “We’ve got some pretty cool shit.”

The largest of several Lenins
pieces of the Berlin Wall


a bundle of busts

Wende Museum
5741 Buckingham Parkway, Suite E
Culver City, CA. 90230
vault tours every Friday at 3pm, reservations required
admission: free!


  1. Shannon April 26, 2011 at 12:37 am

    when did you go here??? this is so random… i should send it to chris. he’d love it! he loves history…

  2. Melanie April 26, 2011 at 2:38 am

    A couple weeks ago. It was pretty cool.

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