Browse Exhibits (6 total)

Inherit Chicago: Making Chicago Home

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Chicago is a city of immigrants, a city of neighborhoods, and a city of stories. Like the communities from which they emerge, these stories are diverse. Some are about legendary figures like the Polish military leader and Revolutionary War hero Thaddeus Kosciuszko. Others are attached to particular places, such as the stories that surround the construction, the residents, and the varied uses of the DANK Haus building in Lincoln Square. And others pertain to mystical narratives of creation and destruction like the Aztec legend of the Fifth Sun.


Despite their diversity, however, all of these stories share a focus on community, on retaining connections to places of origin, and on building connections to the city of Chicago. These are not just stories of the past or stories about distant lands. They are stories that bridge the past, present, and future; stories that tie disparate landscapes together; and stories that foster community identities. They are stories, in short, that make people feel at home in new lands. Community stories have the unique ability to recast the foreign as the familiar, to make Chicago home.

Personal memories, the built environment, archival material, and museums help to keep these legends alive in the present. They also help to project them into the future. Community legends are not just remnants of a past long departed; they are living things that tie communities together in the now. They help us relate to one another, to our pasts, to our futures, and to our environments. Community legends have and will continue to make Chicago feel like home. They are worth taking seriously.

Enduring Objects

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Enduring Objects: Stories Behind Everyday Outfits & Accessories  was an event hosted by the Chicago Cultural Alliance at the Chicago Cultural Center on Feburary 11, 2016.

What we wear is often as important as what we do during our most important life events.  Here the public had the opportunity to present items or articles of clothing they had at home and share with us why they feel a connection to it.  Joining the event was our moderator Lori Barcliff Baptista from UIC's Director of the African-American Cultural Center and two representatives from CCA's member museums, the Latvian Folk Art Museum's president Dace Kezbers & the Chicago Japanese American Historical Society's president Jean Mishima.

Chicago's Families: Finding Home

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A family can be a group of people sharing a name and a roof, but it can also extend far beyond parentage and household. This exhibit reflects on how we negotiate boundaries and links between the people and places we come from and who we find ourselves living among now. From housing relocations forced by war and economic crisis to the multilayering of our identities, to the migrating into new neighborhoods, we find and build community against all odds.

The CHICAGO’S FAMILIES project of the Chicago Cultural Alliance inspired our collaborative exhibit team to consider the ways in which a conventional construction of identity and belonging comes undone against the messy realities of contemporary existence.

We learned a great deal in our process of creating this exhibition. Perhaps most significant, sharing the stories of the many families whose experiences are presented here, made clear to us just how interconnected our seemingly unconnected communities really are.

Thank you for joining us on this journey.

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Chicago's Families: Community As Family


The meaning of family applies to more than the nuclear one. This exhibit examines the families we create through shared interest and activities including social clubs, festivals and celebrations. Hear the firsthand accounts of German clubs in Chicago, and experience the festivities in traditional and religious Haitian holidays, vividly expressed by Haitian artists.

In collaboration with Chicago Cultural Alliance, the following exhibit narrates the evolution of Germany and Haiti’s past and present through an eclectic range of media. Our virtual display here will use tokens from the collections of the Haitian American Museum of Chicago and the Dank Haus German American Cultural Center, to present the people of these countries as nurturing and full of hope. It urges audience members to embrace the celebratory practices that have triumphed over time, in order to further understand the complexities of German and Haitian culture. Using art and ephemera produced in Germany, Haiti, and the United States, larger connections will be made across geographical boundaries, mediums, and time periods.

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Chicago's Families: Im/migration

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Explore the migrant journey through art and storytelling with over 20 family stories featured, bringing to life the vivid memories, hardships, and conflicting views of identity in relation to the American Dream and border crossing experiences.

Interviewees were asked to identify an object that connected them to their immigration experience through a dialogue, based on four questions: Why did you decide to migrate? How did you cross the border? How was your integration into American society? And the last and perhaps most important, was migrating worth it?

Chicago's Families: Displaced Persons


This collection comes from a joint exhibit, internationally circulated, "No Home to Go To: The Story of Baltic Displaced Persons, 1944-1952." 

This content is presented here as part of the Chicago Cultural Alliance's Chicago’s Families: Where Community Begins exhibit. Chicago's Families presents a one-of-a-kind montage of voices, memories, and experiences of families in Chicago. Unfolding at six sites throughout Chicagoland, this project explores the concept of family in different community contexts and demonstrates how cross-cultural collaboration can help us create new and alternative perspectives on the world. 

Chicago’s Families is an example of people coming together to share stories, break boundaries, and bring cultural understanding to the basics.

Here we see families coming together seventy years ago when Baltic people by the hundreds of thousands left their homes to escape war and the threat of Soviet oppression. They fled to the West by any means they could find. They traveled in fear and with hope of survival. But most overwhelmingly, they fled without knowing where they were going, what would happen or when they might return.  This virtual exhibit is only a small portion of the words, images and artifacts of Lithuanian, Latvian and Estonian families and individuals who lived through this wrenching flight from home, years of living in displaced persons camps, and, finally, the journey to a new life in an unknown part of the world.

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