Saturday marks the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and eastern Iowans will be able to take sledgehammers to their own version of the infamous structure.
A replica has been built along the riverfront on the campus of the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library in Cedar Rapids. Sarah Henderson, the museum’s K-12 education specialist, says the replica wall is 60-feet-long and nearly 8-feet tall.
“It’s built out of industrial-strength geofoam, so, think of styrofoam that comes in packing material, it’s incredibly dense and incredibly strong,” Henderson says. “And then another construction material that you can spread over something and it cures in the sunlight and has the appearance and texture of concrete.”
Over the past several months, the replica wall has been decorated by local and international graffiti artists as well as neighborhood children, so it resembles the original. The public art installation, “Revolution Starts in the Streets,” will conclude on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. as people are encouraged to watch the Cedar Rapids wall come down.
“We’ll have sledgehammers and hard hats more for photo ops, because although it’s made out of geofoam, it’s incredibly durable,” Henderson says. “You wouldn’t really be able to damage it. Probably like the Berlin Wall in the beginning. It took them days and days to make even the smallest hole without machinery.”
Many high schoolers who worked on the project had never heard of the Berlin Wall nor its fall on November 9th of 1989, so Henderson says this is an important educational tool. It caps a year of lectures, visiting artists and workshops around freedom of speech.
“The Berlin Wall falling in November really was the catalyst to communism pulling out of central and eastern Europe,” Henderson says. “The Czechs and Slovaks had their revolution shortly after and became a democracy for the first time in decades. It’s a very meaningful symbol across central Europe, including the Czechs and Slovaks.”
After the wall topples, a reception is planned at the museum that will include free refreshments — and music from 1989.