“Breaking Barriers: Walls Throughout History" at the German American Heritage Center -- through May 5.

Through Sunday, May 5

German American Heritage Center, 712 West Second Street, Davenport IA

Boasting objects of significance from its vast collection, as well as ancient Asian, Middle Eastern, and Roman artifacts on loan from the Putnam Museum, the German American Heritage Center will treat guests to a fascinating historical exploration in Breaking Barriers: Walls Throughout History, the new homegrown exhibition on display in the Davenport venue's first-floor gallery through May 5.

Throughout history, walls have played a significant role in shaping our world. From the battlements surrounding ancient cities to the bright lines dividing nations, these structures have been a constant presence in our lives. However, while walls might provide us with a sense of geographic and metaphoric certainty, the relationship between people and these structures is often more complicated than it appears. Walls are not merely physical structures. They can also be metaphorical, representing societal and cultural divisions that separate people. The notion of “us vs. them” has been reinforced by such walls, leading to conflict and discrimination.

For those living along the U.S./Mexico border, the hardening of this boundary has brought about changes that have both increased security for some and created more uncertainty for others. Similarly, the wall built by Israel to combat terrorism has instead become a symbol of oppression and occupation for Palestinians. And while the Berlin Wall was once a source of tension between capitalist and communist leaders, everyday Berliners mourned the families they could no longer see. Despite the differing opinions about walls in communities, the stories they tell about those who live in their shadow are real. From the Great Wall of China to the Israel/West Bank barrier, the Breaking Barriers exhibition provides insight into the history and significance of these imposing infrastructural elements. Heritage Center visitors are consequently invited learn about historical events, view culturally significant objects from various times and places, and reflect on what “walls” they may have in their own lives.

Breaking Barriers: Walls Throughout History will be on display at the German American Heritage Center through May 5, with regular venue hours Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sundays from noon to 4 p.m. Exhibit entrance is free with $3-5 museum admission, and more information is available by calling (563)322-8844 and visiting GAHC.org.

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