Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Owns the Largest Collection of the Berlin Wall in the World
ORLANDO, Fla. (Oct. 7, 2009) – With the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall approaching on November 9, museums around the world will have historic sections of the wall on display, including the Vatican, John F. Kennedy Library, the United Nations headquarters and 13 Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Museums.
Yes – Ripley’s Believe It or Not!
Ripley’s owns what is likely the largest single collection of Berlin Wall sections in the world - 16 10-by-10 foot sections of the wall, most of which are on display at its museums around the world.
So how did a company famous for oddities acquire 160 feet of the Berlin Wall?
“Like most of the country, we were watching the events unfold on TV,” said Edward Meyer, VP of Exhibits for Ripley’s Believe It or Not! “A couple of people in our company had the idea that something significant was about to unfold and we should get over there as fast as possible.”
Meyer was part of a small Ripley’s team that was soon on the ground in Berlin.
Meyer said “It was one of the most emotional things I have ever experienced. To walk in and out of holes in the wall and experience something that had been impossible for nearly 30 years was truly amazing.”
As people around him stuffed chunks of the wall into suitcases, Meyer started scouting for the most interesting sections he could find and prepared to make offers to buy them.
“It was a bit of a free-for-all, because no one really owned the wall,” he said. “We received assistance from an American diplomat who shall remain nameless, and we dealt directly with the German military.”
Ripley’s was soon the proud owner of 160 feet of Berlin Wall – 16 sections that each weighed about 2 tons.
“Buying it was easy. Getting it home was the hard part,” laughed Meyer.
The sections were taken down and put on a barge and floated up the river to Hamburg and eventually placed on a shipping vessel and sent to the U.S.
Meyer won’t reveal the purchase price, but says “it cost us about 50 times more to ship the collection to the U.S. than it did to buy it.”
Today most of the sections are popular exhibits at Ripley museums around the world. Two of the sections not currently on display will eventually head back overseas to go on display at proposed Ripley museums in Bahrain and Korea.
“We were there for one of the most historic events of the 20th century,” said Meyer. “And our collection still serves as a living history lesson today.”
Ripley museums with Berlin Wall displays include: Orlando , New York City , London, Hollywood , San Antonio, Atlantic City , Ocean City , Panama City , Williamsburg , Gatlinburg , Thailand , Mexico City, Kuwait and Cavendish (Canada).
Click here for a video of Edward Meyer talking about what it was like to be in Berlin as the wall was coming down. Click here for a video of Meyer talking about how he bought sections of the Berlin Wall and got them home.
Ripley Entertainment Inc.
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About Ripley Entertainment Inc.
Ripley Entertainment Inc. (www.ripleys.com), keepers of the venerable Ripley’s Believe It or Not! brand, is a global leader in location-based entertainment, entertaining more than 13 million annually at its 74 attractions in 13 countries. In addition to its 32 Believe It or Not! museums, the Orlando, Florida-based company has publishing, licensing and broadcast divisions that oversee projects including the syndicated Believe It or Not! television show, best-selling books and the popular syndicated cartoon strip, Ripley’s Believe It or Not!, that still runs daily in 42 countries. Ripley Entertainment is a Jim Pattison Company, the third-largest privately held company in Canada.