UPDATE: the exhibit will now run through Saturday, May 26.
Hundreds of thousands of Slovaks and Czechs fled their homeland during the communist era, many risking their lives in the process. Their stories, about why and how they emigrated, are sometimes dramatic, sometimes tragic, and essential to our understanding of the events that shaped the 20th Century. These first-person accounts form the core of “Leaving Czechoslovakia,” a new traveling exhibition from the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library. “Leaving Czechoslovakia” will be at Oak Park Public Library at 834 Lake Street, Tuesday, May 8 through Saturday, May 26.
Under the auspices of Dana Hunatova, Consul General of the Czech Republic in Chicago, the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library (NCSML), will hold an opening reception for “Leaving Czechoslovakia” on Friday, May 11 from 7pm to 9 pm at Oak Park Public Library. The opening reception for “Leaving Czechoslovakia” is free and open to the public, and is sponsored by the Prague Committee of Chicago Sister Cities International and Oak Park Public Library.
The “Leaving Czechoslovakia” exhibition will be free and open to the public during regular library hours:
Monday - Thursday: 9am - 9pm
Friday: 9am - 6pm
Saturday: 9am - 5pm
Sunday: 1pm - 6pm
Live Musical Performance
As a special accompaniment to “Leaving Czechoslovakia,” the United Moravian Singers will bring to life traditional songs in the Czech language in a free performance on Sunday, May 20 from 2pm to 4pm at Oak Park Public Library.
More About “Leaving Czechoslovakia”
From 2009 through 2011, more than 150 interviews were conducted by the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library through its landmark project, “Recording Voices & Documenting Memories of Czech & Slovak Americans.”
The project captures and preserves the stories of Czechs and Slovaks who fled their homeland during the Cold War. Phase I of the project focused on those who settled in Chicago, Cleveland, and Washington D.C. The project’s website (www.NCSML.org ) shows video excerpts from interviews, photos, archive materials, and biographies of Czechs and Slovaks who began a new life in the United States.
“Recording Voices & Documenting Memories of Czech & Slovak Americans” has been made possible thanks to a grant awarded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and in cooperation with the Office of Slovaks Living Abroad, the Slovak Institute in Cleveland, and the Consulate General of the Czech Republic in Chicago. Phase II of the project is now underway; it aims to record the stories of the new wave of post-communist Czech and Slovak immigrants in Chicago, New York and San Francisco.
Idea Box at Oak Park Public Library
The “Leaving Czechoslovakia” exhibition will be the next installment in Oak Park Public Library’s Idea Box, which functions as an exciting way to engage the Oak Park community. The raw, flexible space just inside the doors at the Main Library at 834 Lake Street can be just about anything – intimate instruction space, multisensory experience, a space for play, experimentation, or content creation.
Find more events happening at Oak Park Public Library at http://oppl.org/events/calendar .