Since April of this year, the University of Virginia has had the privilege of displaying a section of the Berlin Wall on grounds in order to commemorate its fall in 1989. The four panels of the wall are being loaned to UVa by the Robert and MeiLi Hefner Foundation who acquired the panels in 1990. This piece of history can be seen across from the Special Collections Library and is adjacent to Alderman Library.On the West German side of the wall, Dennis Kaun's mural "Kings of Freedom" is pictured. In the mural, two kings are strikingly juxtaposed. One king is painted in bold colors and glares at its spectators while the other king is blindfolded. The East German side, however, is eerily void of color and artistic expression.
From November 3rd to the 9th, UVa held a Berlin Wall Symposium to celebrate the historical artifact. The symposium included performances, lectures, and films which focused not only on the wall itself, but also on art during the Cold War era. The symposium concluded last night and coincided with the 25th anniversary of the wall's historical fall.
But what do the Berlin Wall and UVa have in common? Like Thomas Jefferson's Declaration of Independence, the Berlin Wall's demise illustrates freedom and liberty. Through Kaun's mural, we see the power of individual and artistic expression. We see the need for political freedom. We see that history is always with us. Ultimately, the Berlin Wall's presence at UVa continues Jefferson's desire for his university to foster education, expression, and community.