CULVER CITY, Calif. — The Wende Museum takes its name from a German word meaning "turning point." It’s a reference to the transformative period around the fall of the Berlin Wall.

The museum is now housed in what used to be a National Guard Armory originally built to withstand an attack from the Soviet Union.

What You Need To Know

  • The Wende Museum of the Cold War is located in a former National Guard Armory in Culver City

  • Justin Jampol is the museum’s founder and executive director

  • Watching the invasion of Ukraine reminded Jampol of his ancestors who ultimately had to flee that part of the world during the pogroms of the early twentieth century

  • New exhibits are coming soon as the public’s hunger for historical context of the current conflict grows

Justin Jampol is the founder of the Wende Museum of the Cold War. As a historian he usually focuses on the stories of others. Watching the invasion of Ukraine forced him to reflect, starting with his last name.

“Jampol—where’s that from, I always just say it’s Ukrainian and I guess it’s taken this war for me to really think about what that means,” Jampol said.

Jampol is the name of a Ukrainian village where his ancestors escaped. They were fleeing the pogroms of the early twentieth century, the organized massacre of Jewish people in eastern Europe.

His ancestral land is a war zone.

“If my family hadn’t left, what would it be like? It’s impossible not to think about that,” Jampol said.

Chief Curator Joes Segal is planning the installation of two new exhibits and says that people are hungry for information they can trust.

“More and more people are now approaching the museum just to get some historical background information to better understand the roots, the cultural and historical roots of the current conflict,” Segal said.

During the 1990s when Soviet landmarks were being torn down and archives destroyed, that lit a fire under Jampol and he began collecting the artifacts to seed this museum.

“Maybe history doesn’t repeat, but it rhymes,” Jampol said. “In other words, it doesn’t necessarily have to happen in the exact same way, but there are echoes.”

The museum is free and open to the public Friday through Sunday.