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Chicago’s Cambodian American Heritage Museum

October 5, 2007

Who knew that Chicago is home to a Cambodian American Heritage Museum? I didn’t—until Monday when I read this Chicago Tribune piece. The Museum has been here since 2004.

Chicago certainly hosts numerous institutions representing all sorts of nationalities and ethnicities. The Irish? Got one. Swedes? You betcha. Italians? Si. Germans? Yah. Japanese? Domo arigato. The historical point to make is that Chicago has been, is, and will continue to be an inclusive city of immigrants.

Here are some excerpts from the piece about the Cambodian American Heritage Museum:

– “In 2004, the Cambodian American Heritage Museum’s first exhibit documented the terrors of the Khmer Rouge and how survivors made it to the United States.”
– “The Chicago museum’s second exhibit, which opened Sunday, moves away from the tragedy that marked the lives of so many Cambodian refugees.”
– “In Khmer Spirit: Arts & Culture of Cambodia [virtual tour available at the link above], paintings, intricately carved sculptures in stone and wood, bas-reliefs of ancient scenes, classical dance costumes and musical instruments tell another part of the Cambodian story. This time, the exhibit celebrates the culture and artistic traditions of the Southeast Asian nation that once was the seat of power for the Khmer Empire, which stretched to modern-day Laos, Thailand and Vietnam during the 9th through 15th Centuries.”
– ” ‘Art can heal,’ said museum Chairman Leon Lim. ‘This exhibit about our culture helps Cambodian survivors reclaim their identity and their culture.’ “
– “The exhibit comes out of a $116,000 grant awarded to the museum and Northern Illinois University by the Henry Luce Foundation.”
– “Much of the museum’s share went into buying replicas of ancient artifacts from across Cambodia; a 1993 law criminalized the export of antiquities, though looters have since ravaged many of Cambodia’s ancient sites.”
– “A separate exhibit, ‘Cambodia Born Anew,’ is set to open Oct. 5 at the university’s Anthropology Museum, in the Stevens Building on the university’s campus in DeKalb. Composed of photographs and artifacts from Cambodian daily life, it strives to show the country since peace arrived.”

——————–

Obviously there is a lot of sadness in the story of Cambodians and Cambodian Americans. It’s great, however, that they are getting opportunity to tell that story here in the Midwest. – TL

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