Dates and Art Exhibit Location

September 19 – October 8: Pepco Edison Place Gallery, 702 Eighth Street, NW, Washington, DC, 20001. The Gallery is free and open to the public Tuesday through Friday, 12pm-4pm and on Saturday, September 25, 2pm-6pm.


  • September 19: Opening Reception by invitation only at the Pepco Edison Place Gallery from 3pm to 6pm.
  • Click images for larger versions. Click here to see all photos from the event. Photos by Elmo Thamm

  • September 23: Events at George Mason University, Fairfax, VA. Print Studio event at 1:30pm where artists will collaborate with students on creating prints. Panel Discussion with the Artists from 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. All events of this program are free and open to the public but space is limited. To RSVP, email Susan Hero at or call 703-759-0012.
  • September 30: Private BMW Reception and Dinner (invitation only) at the Edison Place Gallery, 6:30-8:30pm
  • October 2: Private Walk-through with the Artists by invitation only at the Pepco Edison Place Gallery anytime between 12pm and 4pm.
  • October 2: Youth Leadership Foundation students to visit the exhibit, 11:00am
  • October 4-8: Educational Program for Student Groups at the Newseum. Meet Berlin artists who protested the Berlin Wall and used their art as a catalyst for change. Students learn about life in East Germany through the eyes and works of these artists. Explore the benefits, responsibilities and challenges inherent in “freedom,” and participate in an interactive discussion about the intersection of art with key values such as freedom of expression, courage, truth, optimism, endurance, commitment and risk-taking. This program, facilitated by Breakthrough Art Organization, is available from Monday, Oct. 4 through Friday, Oct. 8 at 10:45 a.m. and 12:15 p.m. in the Learning Center (up to 36 students) or at noon and 1 p.m. in the Documentary Theater (up to 110 students). To register your school group for this program, please call the education reservation line at 202/292-6650 or write to
  • October 5: Discussion with Berlin artists for Goethe Institute guests at Edison Place Gallery, 12-1:15pm
  • October 5: Tour of the exhibit by Goethe Institute guests, Edison Place Gallery, 5-6pm
  • October 6: Duke Ellington School of the Arts students to visit exhibit, 3:00pm
  • October 7: Private Closing Reception and Dinner at the Thinnes home, 7:00pm

Local Partners and Sponsors

Pepco’s Edison Place Gallery
The mission of Pepco’s Edison Place Gallery is to work with non-profit arts organizations to sponsor a series of diverse, high quality art exhibits on behalf of the community we serve. Pepco, a subsidiary of Pepco Holdings, Inc., delivers safe, reliable and affordable electric service to more than 750,000 customers in Maryland and the District of Columbia.

The Newseum educates the public about the value of a free press in a free society and tells the stories of the world's important events in unique and engaging ways. In its prominent location on historic Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C., the Newseum blends 500 years of news history, up-to-the-second technology and hands-on exhibits for a one-of-a-kind museum experience.

Goethe Institute
The Goethe Institute’s principal goals are:
· To shape and revise the image of Germany in the United States
· To present contemporary German culture
· To foster German language and culture within the American educational system
· To develop a transatlantic network for the exchange of culture and ideas

We would like to thank the following for hosting the artists during their stay in Washtington, D.C.
· The Thinnes Family
· Frank and Betty Ruppert
· Frank and Kathy Sesno
· Misse Thorne and Loren Jenkins

Summary of Events

September 19 Washington, D.C. Opening Reception for Breakthrough!
Attended by a few hundred invited guests, the Opening Reception took place on a beautiful sunny Sunday afternoon. Remarks by Dr. Bertram von Moltke, Culture Attaché at the German Embassy, Helen Frederick, Breakthrough Art Organization Curator, and Jeff Thinnes, Breakthrough Art Organization founder, emphasized the significance of the Breakthrough’s inaugural project that is inspired by the art and lives of dissident artists from former East Germany and aims to instill a deeper appreciation for basic freedoms such as freedom of expression. Captivated by the paintings, photography, drypoints and sculptures, guests had the opportunity to engage several Breakthrough artists in private discussions about their artwork and their experiences in former East Germany as well as in the reunited Germany.
Click here to view photos from the event.

September 23 George Mason University Events
The BREAKTHROUGH exhibition was installed and de-installed at Pepco’s Edison Place Gallery in Washington, D.C. by a team of students from the GMU School of Art, Richard Gould form the Smithsonian Institute, and curator Helen Frederick. The Mason students enjoyed learning curatorial practice in working with the extraordinary BREAKTHROUGH museum exhibition and also appreciated the opportunity to meet the Berlin artists during their visit Washington D.C.

On September 23rd the BREAKTHROUGH artists visited George Mason’s University Libraries’ Special Collections and Archives to view one of its most recent acquisitions, a collection of more than 7,500 posters and 3,400 photographs from the former German Democratic Republic (GDR).   Mason is the only university in North or South America to house such a large collection of cultural and political GDR posters. It was perfect timing upon the 20th anniversary of the reunification of East and West Germany in October, 2010, for the BREAKTHROUGH artists from Berlin to view the collection with professors Helen Frederick and Marion Deshmukh, Fionnuala Thinnes (executive with the Breakthrough Art Organization), archivist Jordan Patty, and library staff. Photographer Harald Hauswald particularly enjoyed photographs relating to the Berlin Wall, spanning the time from its construction in 1961 through its demolition in 1989.

Harald Hauswald and painters Reinhard Stangl, Robert Weber and Inge Schmidt also worked together with Frederick in the new Mason School of Art print studio, trying their hand at making monoprints and etchings with students.

In the evening a panel with artists Harald Hauswald, Robert Weber and Reinhard Stangl provided an engaged discussion about their art and themes of experience living under a restricted and divided world. The artists were asked about their personal and collective experiences, oppression, courage, and ultimately their exodus. William Reeder, Dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts, enjoyed discussing with the panelists.

George Mason University Provost Peter Stearns provided a grant to the Breakthrough Art Organization, and the Fenwick Library Special Collections and School of Art provided space, technical assistance, and students to accomplish all of the George Mason program activities.
Click here to view photos from the event.

September 30 Georgetown BMW Center for German and European Studies Reception
The BMW Center for German and European Studies is part of the prestigious Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. The Center was founded in 1990 through a generous grant from the German government. In celebration of its own 20th anniversary, a gala evening reception took place at the Breakthrough Art Exhibition in the Edison Place Gallery. Guests included Germany’s US Ambassador Klaus Schariot, past Georgetown University President Father Leo O’Donovan, BMW North American CEO James O’Donnell, and many faculty and alumni of the Center. Fionnuala and Jeff Thinnes, together with Breakthrough artists Thomas Klingenstein and Inge Schmidt, represented the Breakthrough Art Organization at the event where guests were intrigued by the art, the artists, and the Breakthrough mission.
Click here to view photos from the event.

October 1 German Embassy Celebration of the 20-Year Anniversary of Germany’s Reunification
Upon the personal invitation of Germany’s US Ambassador, Klaus Schariot, nearly 3000 guests attended this gala celebration at his residence. With music in the background provided by the German military band, guests enjoyed the balmy Fall evening, treated to excellent German cuisine and libations. A “mini-exhibition” comprised of a selection of the artwork from the Breakthrough artists garnered much attention and led to lively discussions throughout the evening. Ambassador Schariot engaged the Breakthrough artists in a personal discussion in which he shared his own memories and impressions of visiting and conversing with relatives in former East Germany.
Click here to view photos from the event.

October 2, 2010 German Unification Reception
Ambassador Schariot’s invitation to the October 1 event at his residence celebrating the 20th Anniversary of Germany’s Unification included an insert inviting the same guests to a private walk-through of the Breakthrough Exhibition on the following day, October 2nd. As with the opening reception on September 19, hundreds of visitors attended and engaged in lively discussions with several of our Breakthrough artists. Taking place just one day before the October 3 German Unification Day, it was a particular “high point” for the Breakthrough Art Organization’s inaugural project “Breakthrough! Twenty Years After German Unification: Critical Perspectives of Berlin Artists.”
Click here to view photos from the event.

October 2, 2010 visit by the Washington, D.C. Youth Leadership Foundation’s Program for Academic and Leadership Skills for girls (PALS).
Also on October 2 a group of about 20 teenage girls and young adults from the PALS program visited the Breakthrough Art exhibition and engaged in a discussion with Breakthrough Art Organization founder Jeff Thinnes, and Breakthrough artists Hans Scheib, Thomas Klingenstein, Frank Roedel, Gerald Adam Hahn, and Peter Herrmann. Breakthrough discussions with youth organization aim to inspire young people to engage in the arts as a means to address and overcome obstacles in life. For more information about the D.C. Youth Leadership Foundation, click here.
Click here to view photos from the event.

October 6 visit by students and teachers from The Duke Ellington School of the Arts
About 60 high school students from the Visual Arts program of the prestigious Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington, D.C. visited the Breakthrough exhibition and engaged in a lively discussion with Breakthrough artists Hans Scheib, Frank Roedel and Peter Herrmann. Topics included what it was like being an artist under a repressive regime, why the Breakthrough artists chose art as their career, and comparisons of life before and after the Berlin Wall. The students were particularly interested in having a close-up, personal look at the art on exhibit.

The Duke Ellington School was founded in 1974 and is the only Washington, D.C. public high school that provides professional arts training and college preparation to talented DC public school students. Its mission is to nurture and inspire passion for arts and learning in talented students who might not otherwise have an opportunity to develop their artistic skills. Find more information on this unique and impressive institution at
Click here to view photos from the event.

Evening Events
Several evening events hosted at private homes took place. In every city that hosts the Breakthrough program, these informal events hosted by private individuals allow for lively, personal discussions and are enjoyed by the artists and local guests alike.
Click here to view photos from the event.