‘Pride & Memory’: Exhibit On Italian-American Migration

‘Pride & Memory’: Exhibit On Italian-American Migration

The two themes which permeated the Italian Cultural Institute of New York last night were ‘pride’ and ‘memory.’ These two concepts speak to the identity Italian-Americans hold true today: knowing where you come from and celebrating where you are now. The night was capped by feelings full of emotion and national pride as the exhibit was an acknowledgment of ‘how the Americas have changed Italians and how Italians have changed the Americas.’

Opening remarks for the inaugural night of ‘Pride and Memory.’ Credit: Italian Cultural Institute

The exhibition consists of new and never-before-seen documents which recount the story of Italian emigration to the Americas. Based on the collection from the Museum of Naples’ Bonelli Collection and the Citadel of Culture of Lendinara, the installation highlights the experience of millions of Italians. Acting as a testimony, the documents attest to the different stories that brought each immigrant to the United States. The exhibition will cover the history of this migration from the end of the 18th century to first half of the last century.

Italian consul member addressing the audience. Credit: Italian Cultural Institute

Objects on display include ‘posters, travel tickets, bank remittances, postcards, photographs,’ all speaking to the phenomena of the everyday life. Included in the two hundred and fifty testimonials on display are some unique and original items: ‘the first edition of the “Science of Legislation” by Gaetano Filangieri, (which aroused the admiration of Benjamin Franklin), a passport of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies for America dated 1854, a poster of the steamers that left for the Americas from the port of Naples in 1874 and one of the oldest known photographs dealing with an emigrant, dating from the 1870s.’

Visitors will be taken through a journey with historical reconstructions, testimonials and multimedia contributions, with particular attention to those who they departed from the port of Naples to America. As Gaetano Bonelli, curator and creator of the Bonelli collection, described: ‘How much will be exhibited at New York is the result of over thirty years of passionate study, research and acquisitions. These documents convey the vivid emotion of dreams, expectations and of those who, in a way pioneering, they left their beloved land of origin, in search of fortune towards destinations.’

Rocco Commisso receiving an award for his contributions to the Italian-American community. Credit: Italian Cultural Institute

The night also consisted of a celebration of current Italian-Americans who were recognized for their contribution to the successes of the greater community, representing a source of ‘pride for the whole community of Italians abroad.’ The two men who were awarded were Rocco Commisso, president of Mediacom, and Carlo Scissura, president of the New York Building Congress.

The exhibition runs from late June to the end of August. It is opened between 10:00 am to 4:00 pm and is free of charge.

A video of the opening night:

Featured Image via Italian Cultural Institute

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