Italian american museum

I’ve always been fascinated by people who are able to leave everything and everyone, take their families and cross the ocean to start over again, as many Italian immigrants did in the last century. Sometimes out of necessity, because they were out of work or were on the run. Other times for ambition or just to prove to theirselves that they could do it. As my uncle did when he moved to New York in order to make his life dream into reality; making costumes to some of the most popular Broadway shows. At first excitement, adrenaline and fear. Then pain, exhaustion and sometimes disillusion. And then again… Fear. But at the end, after commitment and really hard work, he managed to create a new life. Without forgetting his origins and trying to pass on to his children and grandchildren the values of his culture. Family, food, creativity, determination. These are the typical Italian-Americans. The history of these people, their dreams, their courage is celebrated in New York by the Italian American Museum on Mulberry St., in the heart of Little Italy. The museum is the result of the commitment of its founder, Dr. Joseph V. Scelsa, Dean of the Calandra Institute (Institute of Italian culture in New York). The museum is located in a historic building that in 1885 housed the Stable Bank, a bank that offered loans to newly arrived immigrants. Founded in 2001, today the museum houses a collection of objects, all received as a donation, that celebrate famous Italian-Americans, such as the military decorated Sgt. Anthony Peronace, Judge John E. Spurt, policemen Joe Petrosino and Frank Serpico. The museum displays lot of old photos, old passports, handwritten letters that show all the different phases of immigration. The museum is a reference point for those who want to know more about Italian-American culture, but it also meets the need of the new Italian-American generations because, as the same Scelsa says «we can not know ourselves without knowing our origins».

Photo by Peter Zullo

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