New exhibit at Springfield History Museum brings together historical and contemporary stories of immigration
A new exhibit called ILLUMINATION opens this Friday at the Springfield History Museum. It highlights the immigrant stories of past and present Springfield residents.
Community outreach and engagement specialist Mindy Linder said the exhibition is part of the museum’s mission to connect the past to the present while recognizing underrepresented stories.
“There are a lot of gaps in our story, and there are also a lot of gaps in the relationships, and the trust in our community that we are stewards of all the other stories that have yet to be told in our. institution, ”Linder said.
For modern perspectives, the museum commissioned community organizer Johanis Tadeo and photographer Ofelia Guzman.
Together, they documented the oral histories of local immigrants as well as videos and photos. Tadeo said he hopes these stories can help foster a sense of belonging and understanding.
“It’s not so much about showcasing the struggle, but rather the strength and power of those people who work hard just to live and be,” he said. “But they happen to be some of the most beautiful and amazing people who have so much culture and so many other stories to share with people and to share with the community.”
Tadeo and Guzman both said the project was personal due to their own immigration experiences. Guzman said she was honored to have the opportunity to showcase Springfield’s Latino community.
“When people probably see us, Latinos or browns, that’s just that, Latinos, browns. But there is so much more than that because we are human beings and each of us has a special story, ”she said.
These contemporary stories will be presented along with stories including that of a man and his wife who immigrated from New Brunswick, Canada in the 1880s. They ended up in Fall Creek and made up a large part of the school district. The man’s grandson would become mayor of Oak Ridge in the 1930s.
“These are really cool stories of people who have come here from a variety of different places and become a part of what we consider to be this historical composition of this region,” said museum curator Madeline McGraw. “I really wanted to stress that when we talk about immigration stories, we are not just talking about people from Central South America.”
McGraw added that immigration has always happened in this country and it is important to give equal weight to different accounts.
The exhibit runs until February 12, but McGraw said the stories Tadeo and Guzman gathered will stay with the museum.
“I’m so excited that we can do these [stories] part of the permanent collection so that future researchers and future citizens of Springfield can access it and have a much more balanced view of our citizens and our history, ”said McGraw. “It’s important to say that we are adding these perspectives to the museum’s collection.”
In addition to the exhibit, three outdoor events are planned where images will be projected onto the museum building during the 2nd Springfield Friday Art Walks on December 10, January 14 and February 12. The museum opens Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. , but the public can see the window display at all times.
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