Monday, July 6, 2009

Former Guide -- and Current U.S. Ambassador -- John Beyrle on Exhibits

My colleagues at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow and in the State Department's Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs have put together a fascinating collection of interviews of former U.S. exhibit guides from the seventies and eighties, along with still photos of past exhibits which give a good idea of what "typical" U.S. exhibits of that era looked like. Among the former guides who are interviewed is the current U.S. Ambassador to Russia, John Beyrle.

While GWU's 50th anniversary conference will focus primarily on the first of the U.S. exhibits in the U.S.S.R., this month in fact marks the beginning of what was a long-term program of traveling U.S. and Soviet exhibitions over three Cold War decades. The U.S. exhibitions reached many millions of Soviet citizens, not just in the Russian Federation, but in the capitals of the then Soviet republics. Cumulatively, the grassroots impact of the U.S. exhibit program was considerable; more on this topic in the days ahead. Winona State's Tomas Tolvaisas, who will join us a panelist on July 23, has interviewed dozens of former U.S. exhibit guides and written extensively about the impact of the U.S. exhibitions in the former Soviet Union and in Eastern Europe.

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