Monday, November 9, 2009 marks the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. And if you stop by Ripley's Believe it or Not! You can touch, feel and see a 2-ton piece of the that wall.
Years ago, Ripley's acquired 160 Feet of the Berlin Wall and the Panama City Beach location is home to a 10 by 10 piece.
Other museums around the world will have historic sections of the wall on display, including the Vatican, John F. Kennedy Library, the United Nations headquarters.
Ripley’s owns what is likely the largest 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.
“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.
*This article contains information from a Ripley's Press Release