"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.
Two hundred years later two statesmen recognized the need to build a museum that would demonstrate to the American public the importance of American diplomacy throughout our history. Ambassador Stephen Low (1927 - 2010) and Senator Charles “Mac” Mathias, of Maryland (1922 - 2010) founded the Foreign Affairs Museum Council (FAMC), a nonprofit organization, to help build the first facility dedicated to American diplomacy by raising funds from the private sector for the project. In 2013 the FAMC Board of Directors changed its name to Diplomacy Center Foundation.
In 1999, Ambassador Low and Senator Mathias met with Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright about their vision for a museum and education center of American diplomacy. Secretary Albright recognized the need and agreed that the museum should be located at the Department of State. Assistant Secretary, later Under Secretary, Patrick F. Kennedy identified 20,000 square feet of interior space that will become the United States Diplomacy Center (USDC). An office and staff was established that included Priscilla R. Linn, DPhil as Senior Curator.
Beyer Blinder Belle, architects, was competitively awarded the project to design the new 21,000 sq. ft. entrance pavilion housing Halls 1, Discover Diplomacy, and the Founding Ambassadors Concourse located at the 21st Street entrance of the Department of State. The Center extends into two renovated 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 educational and simulation programs. There will also be a Mezzanine space in the Historic Lobby which connects the Pavilion and the two interior halls.
In 2010, Secretary Clinton appointed Ambassador Elizabeth Frawley Bagley, former United States Ambassador to Portugal, to lead fund-raising efforts for the project. Also in 2010, the leadership of the Diplomacy Center Foundation was assumed by Ambassador William C. Harrop, a career Senior Foreign Service Officer, who served as the United States Ambassador to five countries.
To date, $47.5 million of private sector funds have been raised from corporations, foundations and individuals toward the $65 million needed to build the Center. The Pavilion will include the Founding Ambassadors Concourse, where educational conferences, symposia and other events will take place. The Founding Ambassadors initiative is led by Ambassador Stuart A. Bernstein, former United States Ambassador to Denmark.
The United States Department of State, the Foreign Service of the United States and the Diplomacy Center Foundation are sincerely grateful to all the many donors whose support is making this significant institution possible. On September 3, 2014, the groundbreaking for the United States Diplomacy Center took place with the participation of Secretaries of State Kissinger, Baker, Albright, Powell, Clinton and Kerry. Construction of the Pavilion building is now complete and was celebrated with a special reception in January 2017. We continue to seek private sector funds to complete the new facility.