"Peace, commerce and honest friendship with all nations."
- Thomas Jefferson
Our first Secretary of State cited these basic objectives in 1801 during his inaugural address as the third President of the United States. Thomas Jefferson was guided by this vision as he pursued effective diplomacy in the American national interest.
It would be 195 years later when two statesmen recognized the need to build a museum that would demonstrate to the American public the importance of American diplomacy to all Americans. Foreign Service Ambassador Stephen Low (1927 -- 2010) and Senator Charles “Mac” Mathias, R-MD (1922-2010) formed the Foreign Affairs Museum Council (FAMC), a nonprofit organization, to help build the first facility dedicated to American diplomacy in the United States and to raise funds from the private sector for the project. In 2013 the FAMC Board of Directors changed the name to Diplomacy Center Foundation.
In 1999, Ambassador Low and Senator Mathias met with Secretary Madeleine K. Albright about their vision for a museum and education center of American diplomacy. Secretary Albright recognized the need and decreed that the museum should be located at the Department of State. Assistant Secretary, now Under Secretary Patrick F. Kennedy identified 20,000 square feet of interior space for what would become the U. S. Diplomacy Center and began to appoint and hire staff, including Priscilla Rachun Linn, DPhil, Senior Curator.
Beyer Blinder Belle architects was competitively awarded the project and tasked to design the new 20,000 sq. ft. Pavilion that will house Hall 1 Discover Diplomacy, located at the 21st Street entrance of the Department. The Center extends into two interior Halls: Diplomacy in Action, covering the 240 years of American Diplomacy; and Advancing Diplomacy, an education area featuring a Diplomacy Decision Center Classroom for simulation programs.
In 2010, Secretary Clinton appointed Elizabeth Frawley Bagley, Ambassador to Portugal, retired, to lead the fund-raising efforts on behalf of the Department. Simultaneously, the leadership of the Foreign Affairs Museum Council was assumed by William C. Harrop, a career Foreign Service Officer who had served as United States Ambassador to five countries. To date, $47.5 million of private sector funds have been raised from corporations, foundation and individuals toward the $55 million needed to build the Center. Under this new Pavilion will be the Founding Ambassadors Concourse where educational conferences, symposia and other USDC events will take place. The Founding Ambassadors initiative is led by Stuart A. Bernstein, Ambassador to Denmark, retired.
The U. S. Department of State, the Foreign Service of the United States and the Diplomacy Center Foundation are sincerely grateful to all of the many donors whose support made a significant benchmark possible. Together, we reached, on September 3, 2014, the milestone of groundbreaking for the U. S. Diplomacy Center with the participation of Secretaries Kerry, Kissinger, Baker, Albright, Powell and Clinton. Construction of the Pavilion is underway as we continue to seek the $18 million or so still needed to complete the U.S. Diplomacy Center.